The Sex & the City reboot is in the making, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are back together, and BFF duo Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton stand in front of a Range Rover in velvet joggers. Without a doubt, the 2000s are back. And since no one does a revival better than fashion, the Y2K trend is the ideal way to do a little fashion time travel yourself.
Find out what's behind Y2K, who the trendsetters were then and are today, and which brands are bringing back the turn of the millennium a good 20 years later here.
What is Y2K exactly?
If you search for Y2K on TikTok today, you will come across all kinds of fashion inspiration. The acronym stands for "Year 2 Kilo", translated as the year 2000, and is actually the name for a computer problem of the time. At the end of the 20th century, technology experienced great progress, including the emergence of tech giants like Microsoft or Apple. Their programmes used the last two digits of a year to store or process it data. Once the year 2000 had arrived, it promptly created a problem. The formatting of a record from 2001 was placed before one from 1998, and thus chronologically incorrect (01<98). Long story short - the name of the 2021 fashion trend is actually that of a software error, known today as the Y2K-bug.
Back to 2000
Back then, it was completely normal for celebrities to walk the red carpet belly-free in jeans with wedge flip-flops. The start of the new millennium brought an explosion of new colours, cuts and materials. It was as if all the styles of the decades before were just a warm-up for what we know as Y2K fashion today.
What Destiny's Child or NSYNC wore back then is what inspires Gen Z and Millennials today. They seem to love the very era they themselves barely experienced, if at all. Those who were around for the original Y2K fashion, usually don't like to reminisce. Nonetheless, nostalgia seems to win over old memories, because the fashion of the 2000s is undoubtedly back. And impossible to miss.
Y2K womenswear - then and now
Women's fashion is all about flashy colours, lots of glitter and skin. Bubblegum pink, a sequin print and butterfly hair clips are as much a part of the Y2K capsule wardrobe as tracksuits, baguette bags and baby tees. The latter are skin-tight, belly-free T-shirts that are combined with low-waist jeans in washed-out denim. If you're really brave, you can channel some Tom Ford Gucci by letting your thong peek out.
Italian label Blumarine's Resort 2022 collection is a prime example of Y2K fashion in 2021. Nicola Brognano, the brand's new creative director, drew inspiration from social media posts from the new generation alongside the icons of the 2000s – Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Lindsay Lohan. Reptile print blue jeans sit low and are worn with a tie front top, leather belt and small bag in pink. At Fall 2022 by Ashley Williams, a mini pleated skirt in camouflage over white lace tights is paired with chunky Mary Janes and a cardigan. The baby tee with a dog on the front makes the look Y2K-appropriate. Versace Resort 2022 presents summery yellow tweed sets embellished with gold chains, paired with acid green tops and Medusa handbags. The designs are unsurprisingly absolutely on point, since they are based on Gianni Versace's miniskirts of the 90s designed for supermodel Claudia Schiffer.
Y2K Menswear - then and now
For men, the focus was on materials. Leather and denim were among the favourites of the time and were often used for both tops and bottoms. Think double denim. Trousers in a bulky cut were combined either with tucked-in logo T-shirts or oversized knitwear or sweatshirts from well-known sports brands with a polo underneath. Accessories include bucket hats and a range of shoes such as Oxfords, flip-flops or sneakers with white, high-waisted socks in ribbed cotton.
In the first collection by Guram Gvaslia, Demna's brother, VTMNTS presented a total of 100 looks for Spring 2022. Many of them fall right into the Y2K category. After all, it was important to the designer to show looks that authentically represented how young people dress today. Cargo pants in beige meet layering in the form of a white turtle-neck under a black T-shirt under two zipper jackets. Chitose Abe presented a look entirely in Buffalo Plaid for Sacai Spring 2022. The wide-leg knit ensemble in signature red and black gets an added millennial touch through a purple turtle-neck and chunky sliders. In a naughty The Matrix vision at Celine Spring 2022, Hedi Slimane combines tight leather trousers with a contrastingly voluminous leather jacket with details in tweed, military boots and choker also in leather with studs.
Who are today’s trendsetters?
18-year-old Olivia Rodrigo is currently storming the international charts with songs like "good 4 u" or "drivers licence". The Californian belongs exactly to the generation that is experiencing Y2K fashion for the first time and effortlessly making it their everyday uniform. The singer wears patent leather platform boots with a knitted pink tube top covered in black spiders and fluorescent trousers. Dua Lipa never seems to miss a trend, since she already rocked the aforementioned Blumarine look. These days, there is new Y2K inspiration on her Instagram account on a daily. Such as the mini pleated skirt with matching top in pink and white houndstooth combined with black patent leather bag and Puma sneakers.
At just 17, Australian rapper The Kid LAROI has already recorded songs with Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. When it comes to fashion, he's just as successful as far as Y2K is concerned. Here, he is wearing black leather trousers with a tank top, blue shirt in 70s disco style and stomper boots. Always at the forefront when it comes to trends is BTS. The seven-member band sets the tone, and that not only in music. Every performance is a little fashion show in itself, just like their music video for the single "Butter". Tracksuits in bright block colours are paired with sneakers that make a hype beast’s heart beat faster.
Why do we love Y2K?
The fashion of the 2000s is young, rebellious and expressive. Bright colours meet glitter as well as more robust materials like denim or leather. It's a wild, contrasting mix that triggers nostalgia in us. But that seems to be only half of the story.
You may have picked up the term "dopamine dressing" in one or two articles from this year. The phenomenon has been researched within psychology for years and describes the release of dopamine stimulated by wearing certain colours or items of clothing. The neurotransmitter becomes active when one receives praise or attention and leads to increased self-confidence. No wonder we are currently so obsessed with Y2K, especially during such uncertain times. The renaissance of Y2K fashion is bringing back positive memories for some, while others are discovering it for the first time, shaping their adolescence in a fun, colourful and happy way.