Pretty much everyone knows that fashion is cyclical, and if you hold onto something long enough, it will eventually come back into style. Usually, these cycles can take tens of years, but Y2K fashion has become a mainstream trend once again, just two short decades after its first appearance.
Most prominent across social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, Y2K fashion has been widely embraced by Gen-Z, a generation that were too young to have fully embraced the midriff-baring, butt-skimming ensembles favored at the time. Now, as young adults growing nostalgic for a simpler time, they’re reaching for all the cropped tees, baggy pants, and kitsch accessories their bank accounts can handle.
The era was known for excess, with fashion at the time largely driven by pop culture and ultra-consumerism. Think designer monograms and bedazzled logos on everything, with a daily wardrobe full of pieces that exist in the sartorial limbo of streetwear-meets-glamour. It almost feels like a natural place for us to return to, given the convergence of logomania-led fashion, the crossover between streetwear and luxury, the scarily self-involved nature of social media, and the nostalgia for a simpler time.
Here, we dive headfirst into the Y2K fashion trend to detail everything you need to know about what it is, how it came to be and, more importantly, how you can incorporate it into your closet as a grown adult—without looking like you’re having a mid-life crisis.