The Y2K resurgence: Why we're all obsessed with 00s fashion again

For years, noughties fashion has been deemed incredibly tragic.

More commonly referred to as Y2K (AKA year 2,000), this era of style was pretty wild – from Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie wearing matching velour tracksuits, to Jamie Dornan wearing an actual seat belt as a belt. 

But it seems even the most bizarre fashion choices can come back around, as a Y2K resurgence is currently in full force.

Not only are the better-known trends of the 00s having a renaissance in the fashion world (think cropped tops, baguette bags, double denim and butterfly motifs), but the far more questionable ones are cropping up again, too.

That’s right, the weird (and worst) trends that we thought we’d seen the back of for good – in other words, the skinny brows, the low rise jeans, trucker hats and body chains – are back with vengeance. What’s more, some of the most stylish celebrities in the world are wearing them.

Bella Hadid is perhaps best-known for her frequent nods to Y2K fashion, pairing tube tops and tie-front cardigans with low rise jeans. Likewise, Dua Lipa’s dress at the 2021 Grammys paid homage to Mariah Carey’s sequin butterfly top from Emanuel Ungaro’s couture ‘00 collection.

Everywhere you look, nostalgia is rife.

So why are we all suddenly obsessed with 00s fashion again? Especially considering we were alive to see most of it crash and burn?

And if trends typically recirculate every 20-30 years – what has accelerated this desire to dip back into it?

‘In a sense, nostalgia is always on trend and fashion revivals of decades past are fairly commonplace. However, it’s the proximity of this particular resurgence that makes it unusual,’ says Rich Simmons, styling team supervisor at Stitch Fix UK.

‘Given that the age group fuelling the trend is skewing younger, it’s likely that the 00s resurgence has been accelerated by social media – TikTok in particular.’

Wizz Selvey, founder of WIZZ & CO, agrees that our increasingly digital lifestyles make fashion shifts more fast-paced. 

She says: ‘Trends can be accessed and adapted more quickly because of content creators and social media. We see catwalks immediately, compared to having to wait six months, 10 years ago. And street style is more heavily influencing wider fashion – the customer and influencers often lead this change.’

There’s also the coming-of-age element, as every generation looks to put their on stamp on things and push the pendulum back in the other direction. 

Wizz adds: ‘Now we are going from the big bushy brow back to a thinner style of pencil brow.

‘Every generation wants to make their mark in an expressive way, so often things get bigger or smaller, thicker or thinner (eyebrows) longer to shorter (hemlines), minimalistic to opulent.’

Experts add that there’s no denying the pandemic has played a role in this revival – as some people seek comfort in the familiar, while others are feeling more experimental than ever.

Rich says: ‘Although 00s nostalgia has been brewing for a while, these trends really accelerated during the pandemic and throughout the various lockdowns that kept us inside and glued to our screens.

‘For younger customers who didn’t experience the early 2000s aesthetic, these trends appeal as they’re bright, fun and colourful.

‘So, as Gen Z comes of age, demand for colourful and bright accessories, double denim (think Justin and Britney), velour tracksuits and low rise jeans are on the rise. 

‘Whereas for those who lived through the era, the memories and nostalgia provide a sense of comfort and familiarity. 

‘Equally, as 00s icons such as Paris Hilton and Megan Fox re-emerge in the media and in celebrity culture, younger audiences pick up on the trends that they represented back in the early 00s and reinvent it to speak to their own style.’

So while trends tend to come back around every 20-30 years, social media and the pandemic have sped this process up for Y2K fashion.

The nostalgic element for those who lived through it is a familiar pull back to better times, while those who weren’t alive to see it are now discovering some of the bold and brash looks for the first time.

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