Each generation goes through a nostalgic phase from a time when they were younger or a past time that they idealize. Generation X went through 70’s and 80’s nostalgia, Millennials fueled a resurgence of 90’s pop culture in the past few years, and now it is Generation Z’s turn to set current trends by looking back. Gen-Z is, after all, coming into young adulthood during one of the most unsettled times in memory. From the pandemic and social unrest to polarized politics, our current times call for some comfort food. For Gen-Z, that is a yearning for Y2K.
For some of us, just the thought of Y2K brings to mind the uncertainty if computers would turn on after midnight, December 31, 1999. For others, it sparks memories of the 2000 Presidential election, but for Gen-Z, it is all about the clothes and pop-culture. Resale and vintage shops are seeing a spike in demand for items from Y2K. We can all remember someone telling us, “just save it, it will come back around.” Yet, the fashion industry always finds a way to tweak the re-treaded trend just enough to push us into whipping out our debit cards.
This time is different, though, for several reasons. The rise of vintage clothing websites, local resale shops presented in upscale ways, the high cost of new consumer goods and adulting in general have driven this frugal generation to discover the past in a very real way. Gen Z is also socially conscious, concerned about climate change and sustainability. So, they aren’t looking for knockoffs. They want the real deal. And since it has been about 20 years, the price is right.
So, what trends are making a comeback? At first, I remembered square toed shoes, chunky heels, flat front pants, after two decades of pleats, and fitted, natural fiber blouses. But then, I realized I was two generations up, long into my career and buying professional clothes of the time. What we are talking about here is reality TV and celebrity fashion of the time. Ready? Think Paris Hilton and her BFFs. This means Juicy Couture velour track suits, the open mid-drifts of Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child and Christina Aguilera and jeans that “flair” at the bottom. Yes, we used to call them bell bottoms, but I am showing my generation gap. I find myself wondering if purse puppies will make a comeback too. Shiny fabric and metallic jackets were all the rage around Y2K and bubble-gum pink was the color. Baby tees and ribbed cardigans were on-point, as well as mini-skirts. To complete the look, you will need some kitschy jewelry and a butterfly clip. For a more sophisticated look, Gen-Z is looking to Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in The City for her off-beat twist on high-fashion.
So, where do you buy this look if you can’t raid an older relative’s closet, who hoarded these items? If you do have such a relative, act fast before they find out their closet is money! You will be surprised where all these items are popping up. The fashion world is showing re-imagined Y2K trends on the runways, but Gen-Z is opting for resale. For this, you will have to look to online marketplaces like Etsy.com and local resale shops like Goodwill.
I spoke to Brooke Goodman at Goodwill in Nacogdoches to confirm the trend, and she said, “We are seeing lots of retro going out the door, including bell bottoms and crop tops.”
Are you ready to pull out your bell bottoms and show your tummy, again? A few extra Covid pounds will melt away if we make getting back into those jeans a goal. Here’s to revisiting Y2K in whatever way that makes you comfortable thanks to Gen Z.