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Why is Gen Z Obsessed With The Y2K Fashion Trend?

Short answer: nostalgia fashion. It makes people feel safe, confident and reminds them of the style icons they grew up watching. DIY aesthetics and comfort are also a big factor here.  In a world that’s always changing, it can be difficult (and expensive!) to keep up with fashion trends. Y2K is an easy solution for millennials and Gen Zero to stay fashionable without breaking the bank.

Someone can just visit a vintage shop and purchase a couple of pieces at a discount to create a bunch of outfits for their next night out. There’s also the 20-year cycle at play. Fashion historians claim that twenty years provide enough time for past styles to resurface and look fresh.

Christina Aguilera during MTV’s Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York, New York, United States. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic)

When we say Y2K, we refer to all the dress habits of people before the 21st century. Think flip phones and high-contrast colors: a neon blouse wouldn’t look out of place with low-rise jeans or mini skirts in this trend.

Others might prefer Oakleys, shiny clothing, and tight leather pants. They represent optimism for the 21st century and reliance on technology.

Destiny’s Child and Christina Aguilera are good aesthetic icons for reference. Paris Hilton if you’re looking for something more upscale. Today, Due Lipa and Bella Hadid are inspirational muses for this fashion trend, as are accounts like @90sanxiety and cousin @2000sanxiety.

Fashion brands, always at the forefront of modern trends, have taken note of the chance. Newer collections from Marc Jacobs and Versace reflect the street style of these millennial influencers.

But why are Gen Z’ers chasing this trend now?

It’s no secret that most Gen Z’s are used to technology. This allows them to adapt to new technology and fashion shifts on the fly, and to accept and discard trends at will. Y2K just happens to be so right now due to the nostalgia factor. 

For many Gen Zers, ‘90s and 2000s were their formative years, a time of social progress and prosperity. It might also represent an escapist desire for simpler times, especially when people put on nostalgia glasses looking at a distant but noticeable reality.

On the other hand:

“There’s nothing new in fashion. Only old trends with something modern added to them.”

This phrase cannot be attributed to one person but sums up the general attitude toward modern fashion trends. Some experts call recent fashion a rehash of an old fashion era: the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, and that’s usually the agreed-upon fashion originality cut-off. 

Will an obsession with taking something old and adding a couple of new things stymie the development of new trends? No one can say for sure, but fashion historians have estimated that this over-saturation of rehashed content has changed the 20-year-cycle into a 10-year one. TikTok users might notice that the aesthetic has already shifted to the late 2000s.

At the end of the day, we live in an era of fashion pluralism, where social media has also allowed diverse fashion trends to coexist, sometimes negatively, but most of the time positively.

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