China’s Solar Visor Craze
China is currently in the midst of a new headwear craze. It’s like a typical sun visor with a swivel down piece of dark transparent plastic which shades the face from the summer sun’s harsh glare. The protective plastic can serve as an extended visor (up), or sort of a whole-face “sunglass mask” (down). See the pictures below, modeled by yours truly. I’m not entirely sure what to call the new hat-like apparel.
The Chinese just call them 太阳帽, which could be literally translated as “sun hat” and my (normally awesome) good dictionary lists as “sun-helmet.” The thing is, I’ve been in China nearly four years, and I can assure you that this is an entirely new product, so the dictionary term can’t possibly apply in more than a very general way. Anyway, I can’t call these new “sun-helmet” things “sun visors” because that name is already taken by the traditional sun visors without the crazy swivel-down tinted plastic piece. So I’m calling them “solar visors.”
The whole point of this post is that China is going nuts over these solar visors. Like I said, as far as I know, they weren’t even around before this summer, and now I see them everywhere. They’re particularly popular among the bicycling crowd. Russell just got back from trips to Beijing and Sichuan, and he said they were all over there too. These solar visors are taking the country by storm. And they’re just so tacky. But practical. The Chinese go for practical.
Here are a few shots I took last Saturday of the Solar Visor Madness coursing through the streets of Shanghai these days, and, indeed, possibly all of China:
I hope you’re thinking, “wow, those look really ridiculous.” Because that’s the idea. It’s madness! But it’s kinda fun.
Why do the solar visors look so ridiculous on people in the street? Perhaps they remind you of something? Here are two possibilities:
Of course, it’s not the entire country that has gone mad. A lot of people stick to more traditional (and sometimes quite creative) methods of protecting themselves from the sun:
I just stick to sunglasses, myself. After taking my pictures I gave my own solar visor away to someone who would use it for more than a blog entry. It cost me 7 rmb (less than $1 US).
Have you seen these things before? If not, you probably will soon.
Update: You can buy these on Amazon.
oh god, I saw sooo many of those.
now that I’ve been back not even a day, I miss China.
Actually, the best way to block the sun is to wear a straw Mexican sombrero with a wide brim AND wraparound sunglasses. If the Chinese were truly practical, they’ll start making these sombreros. They’re like the parasols Chinese women use, but they leave both your hands free.
And I don’t think the sun visors are all that tacky–at least, not any more than American baseball caps (the ugliest hats in the world!).
Add “solar visor” to my list of things to buy while I’m in China.
I’m so glad to read Xiangchang’s comment about baseball caps. I thought I was the only one.
Fun topic: good to see a) original photos b) some day-to-day lifestyle in Shanghai. When you see beautiful, young looking, 40 year old MILF’s in Shanghai, you can thank such anti-wrinkle measures as umbrella’s in the summer and “solar visors”. I have a solar visor (rigid format in tinted blue) from Disneyland, circa mid-80’s. Genius to add a hinge to the band so it can be a solar mask.
Sighted in Qingdao and Yantai too.
I’ve seen something like them here in Chennai where people use them for (gasp) motorcycle/scooter protective headgear.
I also saw a lot of them in Vancouver this spring, by then I thought it’s just a fad there, seems it’s NOT!
I stuck to the umbrellas to beat the heat in Beijing. Didn’t see many solar visors, but I didn’t pay attention too much.
As if Chinese cyclists needed another reason not to use their peripheral vision while riding…
I asked someone I saw using one in Japan about a year ago and he said they’ve been here in Japan for ages… another Japanese ‘fashion’ disaster making it to China?
I believe the proper name for that gizmo is “blast shield helmet.”
Forget the visor.
Where did you get that shirt?
You are right on about this sudden visor craze, where did they come from??
Said recently about the visors:”How can they see with those things on?”
Answer: “Have you seen how they steer normally? Not like it makes a difference”.
You forgot one of the classics in your photo montage, however: the wet towel on the head!
I’d say that might be Hangzhou’s most popular summer fashion apparel.
I can’t wait until they come State-side…
They’re already stateside. I live in California’s San Gabriel Valley, the most Chinese place outside China, and I occasionally see Chinese people wearing those. :p
In Toronto, I saw these downtown on a bunch of people I thought were Koreans, but I guess this confirms they were Chinese.
But I want research into that Japanese connection!
They were in Tianjin last summer! I swear!
I meant to post a picture, but never got around to it.
I can’t believe the price has dropped so significantly over the last two years!
I first saw a sun visor on He Fang Street in Hangzhou. At that time, a hawker was selling it for 70 RMB (after discount I must say). He claimed that it was imported from South Korea and that’s why such a high price!
I wonder whether China is manufacturing them now? As awkward as it looks, the sun visor (at least the one from Korea that I’ve tried on) is very practical for biking. It’s so much better, clearer and more comfortable than a pair of sun glasses. Best of all, it sheilds a cyclist from all the dusk on the road.
Here in Canada, I’ve seen them in Chinese malls. They go at around USD 12-15 each. What a huge price difference! And what a rip off.
My mom bought one of those but never really used it on the streets because it’s too…interesting. I guess this solar visor craze hasn’t swept Hong Kong yet, but it is available in the market.
i bought a solar visor just to be part of something bigger than me. i broke it accidentally about two hours after i bought it, which, you know, probably says something about the girth of my skull.
I know someone who could really use one of these. She’s been having trouble keeping her bangs off her forhead & loves those big wrap-around sunglasses. This could combine both!
OK….preliminary prototypes spotted this side of the water last month (see above)…. I give it a few weeks till they metamorphose into the movable solar visor style.
One thing you cannot overlook is the fact that most of the people in the photos are riding electric bikes or motorbikes, not rusty rickshaws and traditional bikes as portrayed in the 80’s and 90’s. As their society GNP climbs, so does the mode of transportation.
LMAO! chinese people always follow trends 🙂 once a trend starts, it will sweep the whole country.
OMG! No sooner had I penned a comment than this morning some teenager on a scooter pedalled past me on my way to work this morning wearing none other than A SOLAR VISOR!
Tokyo is about to be gripped by a new accessory. I can feel it….. Or is the heat (record 39.5C) just getting to me!?
hello, welcome to China and nice homepage!
Hangzhou is my hometown and she is a beautiful city, are you still here?
anyway, have a good time here
I’ve been looking for blogs of people from Shanghai all day. Came across yours.
I’ll reach Shanghai in September. I hope that this trend will still be going on strongly. hehe
I want to see with my own eyes. ^_^
7 rmb!!! Shanghai is expensive! I bought one last week for 3 rmb and I have a sneaking suspicion that the Chinese price is 2 rmb. I am not going to use this as a sun blocker, but a spit shield when I am biking past the countless buses on the way to and from work.
hi can you tell me where to get them from
i would really love to buy 50 of them
cheers karen k
Read with interest – were you able to find an outlet?
Well that’s waht you paid the extra dollar for.
30 messages on a stupid sun visor! Unbelievable! John, I’ve noticed a trend on your blog: people gravitate to the most infantile of subjects and then leave the “heftier” topics alone. It’s truly bewildering. I really wonder if they’re truly THAT interested in sun visors or not. I suspect they are. The intellectual vigor of China is truly depressing. No wonder Dashan’s huge: he’s big, white, and totally nonthreatening; a overgrown prepubescent. Barney & Friends would VERY VERY big in China!
There are two other factors you’re forgetting which help explain the number of comments for this post.
Hey I need a way to.buybsome these to resell..even have it desned the way I want, you have ideas to get to who can make them.for me? I am in Kingston Jamaica
Sorry, no idea!
I just saw an old HK man wearing this solar visor in Seattle!! Can you believe this, of all the places, Seattle?!
Second visor spotted in Tokyo last nite on way home from work. This time the owner was a middle aged woman. Obviously a trend that reaches across demographics and geographies.
I haven’t seen any in Guangxi yet, but maybe that is because we are supposed to be “backward” here.
Carl’s comment was great about the vizors, practical. I’ve not spotted any in OHIO. Question, do the Chinese ever wear bike
More often than helmets, Chinese wear cell phones to their ear, chatting away, wearing a business suit or floral dress and high heels, crossing a busy intersection right down the middle in between two buses, a number of sharply weaving taxi’s, other pedestrians, bikers and the occasional VIP black benz. All this and more with extreme loftiness and casual day-to-day flair. It’s an art and it’s only in CHINA.
does the boba fett version come with a rocketpack?
The solar-visor craze is spreading it’s tentacles! Today I saw one in Brisbane – I wouldn’t have looked twice if I hadn’t have read this post. But because I had, I had to do a triple-take! It was quite a surreal moment…
Does it really work???
It’s really ugly! 🙂
Hey Big Sausage,
how did the exam go?
Oh, I did alright. 😉 Now, time to study for the NEXT one. 🙁
The next one being the ORAL one, I mean. 😉
I believe we need a new post soon John. Some of us are getting antsy.
I’m leaving for Shanghai tomorrow, to take my interpretation course, you know, and won’t back till Aug. 21st. I see you’ve been super busy lately. Hope we can meet up there sometime in those 20 days when we both have time.
I second Jing (above). John, we want you back =)
OK, I’m back in Shanghai. I was planning to do a post or two from Tianjin, but then… I didn’t.
New stuff soon! My mind is backlogged with things to write about.
Robert Marquand, “Sun-shy female commuters fuel an Asian fad,” Christian Science Monitor, 18 August 2004.
Finally!. A link to an online-store.
My mother-in-law saw these visors a couple of times in San Francisco and Crater Lake, Oregon. Since then, everytime I come to asia (Taiwan or Japan) she asks me to get her a couple. They scratch easily but she loves them!
It is a pain to transport them, specially since I like to travel light, and I really do not have room in my suitcase.
Thank you very much for the link to an on-line store to get them in the US.
The craze is spreading further. About 4 months ago I started noticing these around the San Francisco – Bay Area. Now I see them all the time. A car pulled up next to me last week with 4 women (Asian) all wearing these — with the visor down. Too funny.
I WOULD LIKE TO BUY A SOLAR VISOR. YOUR PHOTOS ARE NOT CURRENTLY APPEARING ON THIS WEB SITE.
Thanks for alerting me; I wasn’t aware the images weren’t appearing. They should be now.
As for buying the actual solar visors, I can’t help you.
You just know that China will be to world fashion in the 21st century (and beyond) what France was in the 18, 19th, and 20th centuries. See those pointy-toed shoes that women are killing their feet to fit in to in the States? Guess where that craze started.
Do you know who makes these visors. I would love to import some.
I live in Texas and let me tell you we need them.
In my earlier post I was looking for a manufacturer so I could import these great visors.
Since the post I have found a source. So if anyone is interested in purchasing just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
this was not just a craze in china… they were in korea way before they even hit th streets of china. no big deal… get with the program. visit any major city with an asia-town back in ’04 and you’d find ’em… from san francisco to toronto… but of course they didn’t cost
Where can we buy these? They are great. I live in the states and would love to have one for baseball games.
I’m desperately trying to find out how to get one of these solar visors here in Los Angeles. I can’t seem to find them on the internet. Help! 🙂
I WANT ONE OF THOSE SOO BAD…anyone know where I can order one or a few in the US????
If you want to buy these visors go to our website at http://www.suncapcompany.com. We do both retail and wholesale here in the US.
You can email me at email@example.com for more information or to order.
thanks joan! I saw one of these being worn by someone in Boston, and thought it was a brilliant idea! Can’t wait to place an order for a couple myself!
Those are CRAZY! I saw them at the Asian mall and considered sportin’ one ’round my sleepy suburb.
Do you mind if I use some of your images for my blog?
Thank God I finally have some answers. I keep seeing these Asian women with the funky visors in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s nice to know I was not hallicinating. It was so bizarre. I have also seen a few fully covered women driving in what looks like a bee-keeper get up. Is it really that hot here or it’s a culture thing?
Classic. Now, isn’t this more befitting WTO riot police than little old Chinese ayis?
The visors were all over Queens, New York, last summer. (Queens is the “other Chinatown” in New York. Many Taiwanese used to live there, but the ethnic mix of the neighborhood is changing these days.)
Didn’t see any in Taichung, Taiwan, last month.
They will probably be available in the US Walmart’s, maybe this summer.
These sun-visors have been around for years, they were in use when I arrived in early 2003. Apart from protecting your face from the sun they’re also very effective at keeping the grit out of your eyes while cycling.
I see these all the time in Cupertino, CA. People even drive around with them on.. I don’t get it.
i saw one here in iowa. i must have one. my searching led me to your site. any tips on how i can get one?
They have got to be the ugliest headgear known to man and are a massive detraction from anyone’s appearance. In Vancouver I’ve seen what would otherwise be very attractive chinese women wearing these things. Awful! You see these women driving a classy expensive car, wearing expensive designer clothes, with one of those ugly contraptions on their head. All that money and time spent on car, fashion, makeup, etc and the simple act of wearing one of those visors detracts completely from their appearance. I don’t know. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me the chinese psyche.
Personally I would rather have my wife, girlfriend, concubine, etc. looking a little darker than normal rather than knowing she was totin’ around town wearing one of those hideous masks.
‘Wife, girlfriend, concubine’? Really? What a fucking loser you are.
Anyone know where I can buy some of these in Toronto Canada?
Please let me know as soon as possible.
I’ve seen asian women in Torrance, California wearing these things which is why I Googled it. These are about the ugliest things I’ve ever seen and I was curious about what the deal was.
If anyone knows who manufactures or designs them, could you please point me in the right direction? I need to ask them to help me to adapt the design for a medical condition (very severe light sensitivity). Unfortunately current design, adult full size, is still too small to offer the complete protection.
I know they are made in Korea or China, but so far I had no luck and a couple of US sellers have been unwilling to pass the contact.
I hope someone out there knows and can help.
I saw these all over china recently and wanted one for cycling around London but couldn’t carry up one while backpacking for many months. I finally tracked them down on ebay, though you can buy in bulk from chinese exporters online. SunCapCompany, above, seems to be out of stock. The trick is that they seem to be called a ‘Sun Cap’ or ‘UV Cap’ when translated. The strange thing is I didn’t see them anywhere else in SE Asia.
I have a friend who owns a store and would be really interested in purchasing these visors for a wholeprice…how can she go about doing so, minimum order and how much?..please advise, thanks
I saw this all over China when I visited back in May, then actually saw it on the streets of New York a few months later (although, just a few blocks from Chinatown). I thought about buying one to bring back to the US with me, but then quickly realized the joke would be on me if I tried to ride around town in North Carolina wearing such a crazy piece of head gear. Even as a gag-gift I think I’d be the only one laughing….
This is one of the funniest posts ive seen on here. yet at the same time its pretty wack to go to china and make fun of people. they should come here and do the same thing. keep it up though cuz its funny.
Those hats were also big, when i visited Hong Kong in 2006. There was something about them, that made me buy several. it’s just scary.
Yep, I agree w/ most people here when I say these things are ridiculous. Where’s the point in being pretty if you look like you’re cosplaying Boba Fett?
Also, Asian women in the Bay Area, CA wear these fabric driving gloves in order to cover their hands, which I think is a good idea. However, when white driving gloves is combined with this flip down visor, you end up feeling like you’re surrounded by copies of the Daft Punk guys.
I live in South Pasadena in the San Gabriel Valley(california-just outside los Angeles)and I have been using the face shield for 3 yrs now.I love them I am fairskinned non-asian and tans are skin injuries land besides age one when I compare my carefully protected skin to that of my sisters well they look like they could be my mothers. Whats wrong with taking care of your skin.
Those have been around for a very long time. They come in clear as well. They are face protection shields normally used in industry and chemical applications. I have a couple of them in my garage. I use the clear one when I am grinding metal and such, and the tinted one for brazing. Welding is to bright for it, so I use a auto darkening welding helmet. Here in Missouri, USA, they cost between $12 and $25 dollars US depending on where you get them. But yes, they have been in the US for as long as I can remember, and Im 46. I have never seen anyone seriously wear them in this way though.
Actually , Harbor Freight has them for as little as $4.99 for the clear ones, and $7.99 for tinted.
I first saw these stupid contraptions being worn by Asian women drivers in Silicon Valley. My first thought was “WTF?!” My second thought, which is a pet-peeve of mine is the ignorance of women drivers: The windshield and windows in the car already provide UV protection. The third was that a friend and I almost got run off the road when we were in the rightmost lane of a dual left turn lane. My friend sped up through the turn to show off the handling of his car (tires howling) when a women in a Mercedes wearing those stupid visors decided to go to the rightmost lane (where we were) in the middle of the turn. Thank goodness for good Audi brakes! She never had a glue that she almost hit us. Ignoramus!
They may look ridiculous but I work with people that are visually impaired and this product would be perfect for a particular client of mine that cannot wear sunglasses and is extremely sensitive to light and glare. I live in Canada would anyone know where to purchase one in Canada or even purchase one on-line.
Thanks for your help.
Haha even though this post is four years old, it still rings true. And i came across this video of friends trying to save a guy from the madness that is the sun visor. Check it out
Its the sun visor one. Enjoy
Where do we find these awesome visors?
You can buy them at any local dollar store or chinese night market
For all the caucasians out there feeling left out, you too can rock the sun bonnet! We bought ours at the Bay in Vancouver, BC. They’re so much fun, and cheap too! 6 dollars for your very own Sun Bonnet!
Okay seriously… I have to get one of these by the end of the week! If I’m able to get one the guy I’m giving it to assures me that he will wear it all the time and I can NOT miss out on that. Help?
You know something, i live in Monterey Park which happens to be one of the most asian populated (if not the highest % population of any city in california) community on the west coast and i see those arc welding masks everywhere i go. They drive with it, eat with it, sleep with it, and ride bikes with it, walk dogs with it, etc. Today however, i found the ultimate offender of all mask wearers. This lady, i swear to god was literally WEARING the car winshield sun reflector of her car around her neck. What are they going to think of next???
To preface, I live near Wshington DC, home of many nations, a real melting pot here for sure, I work in McLean VA near Dulles International Airport,……..I see these Solar Caps, Sun Visor Caps all over the place here. I’m driving to lunch today and look over and sitting in a Yellow Honda Element are two young Chinese girls, maybe 30ish, I have to do a double-take…….I look at them just sitting in their mini van at the light and they both turn to look at me at the same moment …….it was like something from an Anime movie, they both had on Sun Visors, I had to laugh it was so quirky, I thought of the two Chinese majic fairies in those Godzilla/Mothra movies …..I couldn’t help but snicker and think of them looking at me at the same time and singing that loopy Mothra song that those fairies sang. Of all people the Chinese come up with the goofiest yet practical headgear. I can’t help but think of someone huffing and puffing while driving with a Sun Visor over their face and it getting fogged up and them running into a tree or something ……….What’s next??? A body Visor? A Visor Jumpsuit? Bikini Visors?
I live in Southern California and have seen these visors around for a few years, but have never given them a second thought. It wasn’t until my wife wanted to buy some this weekend that I researched the product and its UV protection claims. Thought I’d pass along some information and links…
The U.S Patent is 6,023,784 and was granted to a South Korean company (Il Sung International Company, Ltd) in 2000. The marketing name of this “solar visor” is SOVIS.
A UV-Vis Spectra test was conducted by University of California, Riverside in 2007 on the UV protection capability of the SOVIS visor material.
The visor/shield is made of a polycarbonate film.
The Korean commercial or info video (also found on YouTube) is interesting.
One (maybe only) retail & wholesale distribution channel in the U.S.A. is AXTION SYSTEMS (Buena Park, CA. 888-521-6688).
The Korean-invented SOVIS visor is currently manufactured in China. Beware of knock-off copies that use color/tinted plastic that do not have UV protection. I would suggest using the same caution you would when buying sunglasses.
I’m in Tianjin, I saw one of these on a ninja bike (those pesky electronic ones that sneak up on you) I go for practical my self, and when in Rome… I think I will, pick me up one of these. I ride a bike to and from school, I’m tired of not the sun but the dirt and sand flying up into my eyes. You cant lose one millisecond of time watching the road or your going to be sorry. Maybe if they put some sort of Nike swoosh logo on it it would be cooler…
Just wanted to let you know one of the real reasons why I think this visor is so popular. After you watch my video, you’ll understand.
Which would you prefer? Visor or half your face. I’ve already made that sacrifice.
Yeah I’m from Louisiana USA and at my college campus there was a Chinese student on a bike wearing one of these, it was so funny looking that I stopped walking and just watched (was puzzled at first about what it was that was on her face). Interesting trend.
This looks like a great product for those of us with solar urticaria. (Sun allergy) Even though these look somewhat ridiculous, it’s better than never going outside at all, and it would be less frightening to people than my current look when I go out. With my face mask, sunglasses and hood, I look like the unibomber.
Maybe instead of mocking people for looking ridiculous, people could try to understand there ae legitimate reasons that people wear these things.
I bought one of these in Shanghai, but it broke really fast. Damn you, Trust Mart! I REALLY want another one of these. Please email me links where I can buy them! Xie xie!
These are extremely scary while driving though. People shouldn’t use these while driving!
It’s an Asian thing. Started seeing them early 2000 especially around Cupertino neighborhood
Does anyone know where I can purchase a chinese sun visor?
I looked and can not find?
Thank you 🙂
I found one on amazon.com. Search “solar face shield”.
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I saw them a lot in San Gabriel Area of East LA. I am getting one too after experiencing the painful laser session that are for reversing the sun damages on my face. SO F*CKING HURT!
Hi! Can anybody tell me how well you can see through the dark plastic visor on these hats? I would like to use the hat for rock climbing, but I need to be able to see a little bit. Thank you!
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People, think about the reflection of the sun from the pavement, road and the water, a hat nor a umbrella and certainly not even a sombrero is going to protect you from REFLECTION SUN DAMAGE! This shield will – long live this shield!!! I want to see more of this complete sun solution, I typically wear a hat with a bandana around my face + sunglasses – this is much easier. I am 38 and look 25, i have no wrinkles due to avoiding reflection sun damage as well as overhead – this isn’t a silly fad, this is how to protect yourself from sun related ageing. Support it, wear it fully down, protect your self from reflective sun, look sexy and young for many years to come.
Those are gross. They look like a welders mask, and make the wearers look like pin-headed trend followers. “Chip and dip” comes to mind when I see one… with the visor being the chip. I almost got killed on my motorcycle by a woman in a mini-van trying to drive while looking through the dark, distorted visor. The fashion police should be issuing citations for these…
Spotted in the UK @ Dymchurch Beach…. awesome – lol
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