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The Revival of Y2K Fashion

Writing by Maina Flintham Hjelde. Illustration by Berenika Murray (@photograberry_)

From chunky highlights to whale tail thongs, the noughties had a wide range of highly questionable trends. Many would even argue that this decade had some of the worst trends to exist in the twentieth century. And yet, despite all its controversies, y2k fashion is making a comeback.

Quickly, a trend that was regarded as camp and ironic has become the height of fashion. Everyone from TikTok tweens to the Kardashians seem to be rocking butterfly clips and babydoll tees. So why are gen z so obsessed with y2k?

One of the most significant things about this new trend is that it is the first time for most people of our generation that a trend that we were alive to see the first time round has come back into fashion. From 80s corduroy jeans and brightly coloured windbreakers that were seen everywhere during the rise of Stranger Things to, more recently, 70s flares and curtain bangs that have dominated fashion since the revival of ABBA. Vintage styles have been appropriated in popular culture since the dawn of time, but in the past decade or so it has become far more popular to dress in the same types of clothes our parents and grandparents wore than new and subversive trends. Perhaps we, as a generation, long for a simpler time before social media and technology. We see saturated film photos of our parents lounging in fields or at concerts in bell-bottoms and flower crowns and yearn for something similar. We see fashion as a form of escapism from our own stress-filled lives. This would explain the obsession with fashion trends of the 70s and 80s, but not necessarily the emergence of y2k.

Arguably, y2k fashion is about nostalgia. By dressing in noughties fashion we can pretend that we are living at a time when we had no worries or problems. A lot of us were children during the noughties, sporting the dungarees and pigtails that were picked out for us by our mothers. Most importantly, we had very little knowledge of fashion.

So why are we so obsessed with dressing the way older people did when we were too young to even notice? Perhaps we want to look like our older sisters, the cool teenager who lived next door to us growing up or the protagonists of our favourite romcoms. In a way, we want to look like our childhood role models, to encapsulate the people we saw as being cooler than us, smarter than us and more stylish than us during a time in our lives where we had far fewer worries. After everything we’ve been through over the past two years, I think we all just crave a little nostalgia.

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