By now you’ve almost definitely heard of that super weird but super endearing thing where Chinese people are clipping all manner of (plastic) vegetation to their heads… and if you live in China, you’ve almost definitely seen it. “It” is so pervasive and so Chinese that we’ve named sprouts CFB’s Top Trend of 2015.

It was first covered on social media platforms like Weibo and WeChat but quickly caught the attention of local news reporters… within a couple of months, even international media from CNN to the NYTimes was trying to make sense of this seemingly nonsensical trend. No one really knows where it came from or what exactly it means. Some postulate that it is a social commentary on pollution while others say its just cute. But no matter where it came from or what it means, it happened in 2015 and we love it.

So this is our first Thread, a new category on CFB where we trace the history and story of a certain phenomenon or topic… so please let us know in the comments below what you want us to cover next, and we hope you enjoy this roundup of sprouts!!


Aug 26, The Beijinger – Why is Everyone in Beijing Suddenly Wearing Sprouts in Their Hair?

By Robynne Tindall

The Sprout
Hair sprouts for sale on Taobao

In the latest in a long line of “things I will never understand about modern China,” young women/men/everyone in Beijing is apparently now walking around with small plastic sprouts emerging directly from the top of their heads. A quick glance around Houhai on a Friday night or 798 on a Tuesday afternoon revealed a number of vendors doing a brisk trade in the accessories, with an even greater number of girls selfie-ing it up nearby.

Remember the rafts of people selling cat ears and bunny ears on Nanluogu Xiang? Yeah, this is that, repackaged for 2015.

The plastic sprouts are attached to small clips, which can be hidden in the hair. The most popular type seems to be a classic “pea shoot,” although the vendors we saw in 798 had a vast array of colorful plants and flowers available.

Aug 27, Shanghaiist – Look: Fake sprouts growing out of your head is now a thing in Beijing

By Katie Nelson

The Sprout

A new statement piece of sorts has hit the streets of Beijing in the form of a small plastic sprout that appears to be growing from the top of wearers’ heads.

The clip-on hairpiece comes in a variety of forms, from blossoming flowers to delicate bean sprouts. It’s here. It’s now. It’s everywhere in Beijing, as you can see.

While we’d like to consider the trend some sort of subversive comment on the chronic air pollution that shrouds China’s capital, it’s really just a thing because it’s cute.

Sept 2, WSJ – Sprout Couture: China’s New Fashion Trend Is a Head Scratcher

By Laurie Burkitt

The Sprout
A screenshot of a Weibo user’s dog and a superimposed sprout.weibo.com

Men, women, grandmothers and children in China are all donning the beansprout (豆芽花) hairpin—a barrette that  creates the highly-sought illusion of a plant protruding from the head. Many street-side vendors in Chinese cities are selling them for around five yuan, or just under a dollar, as well as other plant varieties, such as the daisy and the rose.

Social media users really dig it and are showing off pictures of themselves — and even their dogs — with sprouts attached to or superimposed on their noggins.

The growing trend appears to have started in China’s southwestern city of Chengdu, better known for its spicy food than its hair implants. Some seem to think it was inspired by a character from the popular cartoon “Pleasant Goat and the Big Bad Wolf,” while others speculate that cosplay, or costume performance art, popularized it.

Sept 15, CNN – In China, grassy fashion trend sprouts on people’s heads

By Shen Lu

The Sprout

BEIJING — Sprouts, grass, and flowers are blossoming from Chinese people’s heads — and nobody quite knows why.

We’re referring, of course, to sprout hair clips — a brand new Chinese fashion fad that seems to have grown organically out of the country’s tourist spots, where men and women of all ages can be seen rocking the fake plastic plants.

In Nanluoguxiang, an ancient stone lane in Beijing, vendors selling the clips are swarmed by excited tourists, who can’t wait to take selfies with their new accessories.

Yet nobody seems to know where the trend is originated from, according to an informal CNN street survey.

Oct 7, NYTimes – Once Seed Was Planted, Chinese Headwear Fad Grew Like Weeds

The Sprout
A selfie in Beijing. Heads all over China are adorned with plastic sprouts and clover. Credit Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

BEIJING — When Mao stirred China with a call to let a hundred flowers bloom, he surely never imagined anything as frivolous as this.

Across China, people are sporting plastic decorations on their heads in the shape of vegetables, fruit and flowers.

When the trend started a few months ago, it was usually just a humble bean sprout clipped to the hair and erect like a little green flagpole. The slim green shoot seemed to offer a kind of mute protest against the gray, stressed environment of the city.

But as the fad escalated, especially during the current National Day holiday week when Beijing fills with visitors, it has grown to include a riot of plastic vegetation. Now heads are bristling with clover, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, lavender, mushrooms, chilies, cherries, gourds and pine trees.

Oct 13, Today – In China, people are wearing bean sprouts on their heads in latest style trend

By Rebekah Lowin

The Sprout

Every once in a while on this planet we call home, a stretch of boring, uneventful weeks arrives, during which nothing of great import — truly, nothing at all — seems to happen. For weeks, there’s no huge natural disaster and even the stresses of daily life are minimal. Your paycheck arrives on time. The subway doesn’t break down. The whole planet seems to spin a bit slower, and, for a time, you actually enjoy your newfound boredom.

But then one day you pick up the morning paper and read an article about how scores of people in China are wearing miniature plastic vegetables on their heads for no discernible reason and any semblance of monotonous normalcy is lost for good.

Oct 31, South China Morning Post – China’s new flower-child trend: Is bizarre mainland sprout hair fashion fad spreading to Hong Kong

By Jing Zhang

The Sprout
Plastic plant hair clips are all the rage on the mainland. Photo: Corbis

Last week, while buying lip liner in a Bonjour Cosmetics store in Hong Kong (yes, I’m one of two women below 35 who actually wears lip liner – so ’80s, I know) imagine my surprise when both girls at the checkout were sporting green plastic sprouts on their heads. When I laughed and asked them where they got the clips from, they threw a couple into my bag for free by way of an answer.

Like tiny green beanstalks, these sprouts have been adorning heads for months on the mainland. Clipped into the hair, usually at the top, they stick out bizarrely. On social media we’ve even seen the grey-haired generation and business types experimenting with the look, but this trend continues to be dominated by groups of young friends going out together.

This mainland fashion phenomenon has been picked up by international media – and is mostly met with puzzlement by readers, writers and even those who wear them.

Until recently, the fad had not  hit Hong Kong. Since my encounter at Bonjour, I’ve seen a few young people around Causeway Bay wearing the little green clips, although it’s still far from being a common slight as it is in touristy shopping areas of Beijing or Shanghai.

Dec 17, CPDYS – Jacqueline and her Beanstalks, On Top of Shanghai

By Timothy Parent


I really really really didn’t want to post about this because everyone else already has, but I had like 8 million opportunities to take pictures of Chinese people with a range of vegetation clipped to their heads… from mini lilypads to baby mushrooms, there’s a vast array of plastic bits that you can pick up for about 5 kuai (or less than 1 US dollar) and become one of many people literally buying into this trend. I don’t like the idea of trends because I think they are artificial and contrived, but this seems as natural as trends get… this isn’t only because these sprouts directly reflect and are inspired by nature, but it’s also because sprouts has become one, if not the only, identifiable trend that is genuinely uniquely Chinese. Albeit a bit strange, it’s at the very least a representation of Chinese people starting something that has become something of an international phenomenon… although I doubt you’ll see many Parisians hopping on this bandwagon.