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Why the Y2K fashion trend is here to stay

The Y2K aesthetic has had a revamp with noughties brands like Juicy Couture enjoying a renaissance. So, what’s next for the nostalgic theme?
Why the Y2K fashion trend is here to stay | EDITED

Worshiped by Gen Z and sentimentalized by millennials, the noughties are back with 2000s icons like Bennifer and Britney Spears back in the spotlight.

We investigate why this decade is trending, providing market analysis, runway direction and future opportunities to leverage.

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Why it's still relevant

1. Celebrities are revitalizing the decade

Miss Sixty has made a comeback with the help of Bella Hadid. The model starred in the brand's global Spring 2021 campaign and, more recently, posed for its fall 2021 collection, wearing a branded crop top, platform heels and headband. Olivia Rodrigo wore a Y2K-inspired look for her White House visit, while Megan Thee Stallion donned a Rose McGowan-inspired barely-there chain dress to celebrate her Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover. 00s icons like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and J.Lo have also been hitting the headlines lately, sparking nostalgia for the era.

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Image via Instagram - Bella Hadid

2. The theme continuously inspires designers

Y2K was an important story coming out of Spring 2021 fashion week, with tonal styling and micro tops key at designers like Givenchy and Versace. Across the Fall 2021 runway shows, Y2K seeped into the sexy dressing theme expressed via cut-outs at Courrèges and chain detailing at GCDS. The decade was backed again for Pre-Spring 2022, cementing its longevity. 

3. Email mentions have increased year-on-year

In 2020, ASOS landed two emails with the subject line "NEW TREND: Y2K" with the phrase "That's really noughtie" in the body. The e-tailer increased communications featuring Y2K collections to eight in 2021. While Urban Outfitters made no reference to the theme last year, it has circulated the most emails across our analyzed brands this year, totaling 13. Hair accessories, daisy collections and cargo pants were commonly promoted at Urban Outfitters, while Weekday pushed ultra-low waisted jeans and Aéropostale marketed bandana tops.

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What's happening now

Who's calling it out?

ASOS and Urban Outfitters in the US and UK have the most products with Y2K in the description. Common phrases include "throwback Y2K-inspired denim" from Urban Outfitters, "Y2K vibes for days" from Madewell and "your Y2K wardrobe starts here" from ASOS. Across apparel, footwear and accessories, bottoms make up the highest percentage of products characterized by the decade, specifically flared trousers.

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The rise of revival brands

Juicy Couture has firmly re-established itself in the modern marketplace with stockists like Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters. Classic sports labels are also riding the wave of the 00s revival, with the likes of Kappa, adidas and Fila back in the spotlight. Other names synonymous with the decade have been slower to resurface, offering opportunities for early adopters. Paul Frank, Von Dutch and Ed Hardy emerge as stand-out third-party prospects, with little to no market backing at present.

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SS21 top movers

Nostalgia permeated spring/summer collections, performing well across casual and occasion wear ranges. Successful styles plucked inspiration from the decade, but left behind its maximalist tendencies by refining shapes, patterns and details to create a cleaner, modernized iteration.

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Images via Mango, Zara, Bershka, H&M

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Images via Zara, Monki, Mango, NA-KD 

What's next

The Pre-Spring 2022 shows indicated a move towards shorter hemlines and fitted silhouettes - ideal for building out 00s ranges. Lace trim detailing will provide a simple way to refresh basics with Y2K flair, while the cargo pant will be a key directional piece - as noted at Burberry and Stella McCartney.

Chunky soles will remain essential for footwear lines - apply to Gossip Girl-inspired loafers, runners and hiking boots for ensured commercial appeal. Mini and baguette bags remain important buys, while tinted and oversized sunglasses should be invested in over micro 90s styles.

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Images via Versace Pre-Spring 2022; Blumarine Pre-Spring 2022; Burberry Pre-Spring 2022; Stella McCartney Pre-Spring 2022

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Images via Versace Pre-Spring 2022; Celine Fall 2021; Chanel Pre-Spring 2022; Louis Vuitton Pre-Spring 2022

Bookmarks for 2022

With a score of reboots on the cards for next year, in addition to plentiful anniversaries, these pop culture events will help further propel Y2K trends. Consider theming ranges around or investing in licensing for particularly significant milestones such as The Sex and the City release, Keeping Up With The Kardashian's 15th anniversary and Christina Aguilera's 'Stripped' 20th anniversary.

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Contributions by Retail Analysts, Aoife and Avery

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Y2K fashion