A Guide To Doing Y2K Denim in 2021
The styles that permeated the '00s – whether you want them to be or not – are back. After years of throwback 90s minimalism ruling retail and catwalks for seasons and seasons, it’s now time to prepare to embrace a detail-driven approach that will have you yearning for those childhood pieces you loved – largely because they made you feel like Beyonce or Britney Spears.
The styles that permeated the '00s – whether you want them to be or not – are back. After years of throwback 90s minimalism ruling retail and catwalks for seasons and seasons, it’s now time to prepare to embrace a detail-driven approach that will have you yearning for those childhood pieces you loved – largely because they made you feel like Beyonce or Britney Spears. The turn of the millennium was a more chaotic time for fashion—all excess, all kitsch, all flashy glamour—but it felt simpler, in the sense that sex came served on a platter in the form of midriff-baring peel-them-off jeans, cleavage-heavy going-out tops and baseball caps permanently in place.
During the era fashion became democratized thanks to the dawn of the internet and tabloid papers that documented every move and outfit of our favourite celebs. A new generation of influential celebrities emerged in the form of unsupervised teenagers with Daddy’s credit card. Catwalk designers reacted to this by co-opting ideas traditionally associated with bad taste or mass culture and reimagining it in all its early aughts excesses. Names like Paris Hilton, Chistina Richie and their cohort of Hollywood pals were certainly at the forefront of the movement, but the Mean Girls, Simple Life and House Bunny characters weren’t the only defining look of the era. Many of today's young generation of consumers are in fact referencing the influential RnB stars like Aaliyah, Alicia Keys and TLC who helped introduce black culture into the mainstream. Afterall, without the black artists of the 2000s we wouldn’t have the current logomania wave or the fusion of high fashion couture with streetwear - two of the biggest trends to impact the market over the past 5 years. In 2021, we are seemingly experiencing the second coming of the online age. But rather than relying on gossip sites and glossy mags, we now consume fashion by the scroll on Instagram, TikTok, Depop and a slew of other online apps that host influential communities and move at a breakneck pace. As digital natives, it’s no secret that millennials and gen-Z are the originators of the new-wave nostalgic fashion movement. Among Depop enthusiasts (there’s more than 21 million of them), ‘Y2K dressing’ is a go-to search term, which encompasses everything from Bella Hadid’s kitsch necklaces to Kylie Jenner in vintage Tom Ford printed Gucci jeans circa Spring 01.
Vogue editor Eni Subair believes that the return of escapist aughts nostalgia is down to the demand for partywear when we return to parties post lockdown. “Throwback fashion has provided solace this year, hinting to more easygoing times and as we hit the last stretch of 2020, its influence is only intensifying.” She notes items like Peter Pan collar shirts, pleated mini skirts and and collegiate knitwear as some of the top five Y2K fashion trends to watch. One of the labels Subair cites in the article is @Heavn, the new polysexual line by Marc Jacobs and Ava Nirui dedicated to Mr Jacobs heyday. The collection is dripping with Y2K teenage nostalgia with Nirui and Jacobs seemingly answering what Gen Zers were hoping their 2021 uniform would look like: baby tees, silver coated denim and bold futuristic style prints. If that's not enough, the brand is fronted by influencers and artists like Iris Law, Beabadoobee and Bladee who represent this new wave of nostalgia.
Other brands pushing a return to 00s include @jadedldn, the UK retailer offering everything from Tom Ford-esque water patterns, while IT Aussie brand IAMGIA has you covered for low-rise jeans with thongs poking out, just like Paris Hilton nonchalantly did back in the day. On the catwalk for F/W 21 Italian designer Nicola Brognano from Blue Marine unleashed the most outrageous noughties-inspired pieces like low-rise jeans in bold washes and vivid colours. “My Blumarine is more dirty, bitchy, sexier,” he said in a post interview with Vogue. With retailers, influencers and catwalks all jumping on the trend, all signs point to a revival of the so-bad-it’s-good return of the early aughts. Here, we take a look at 5 of the key ’00s denim trends poised for a comeback. When you find yourself sporting a trucker hat and a tracksuit next year, just remember: We told you so.
1. Wide Leg Jean
When we think of the 00’s the low-rise or bootcut jean is typically what comes to mind. While these fits are synonymous with the era, they are somewhat limited to certain body types. An alternative fit which feels far more inclusive is the noughties wide-leg, the grungey, skater-inspired silhouette which was often given a feminine twist when paired with cropped tank tops, fitted babydoll T-shirts or slinky, ribbed button-ups. Today the style works as the perfect evolution to the current straight leg movement that has been dominating women’s denim.
2. Metallic Finishes
In the year 2000, a shiny new millennium spread out before us, glittering with the promises of modern technology. For fashion, synthetic or metallic-looking materials channeled the optimistic spirit of the age and silver coated denim was one of the ways RnB singers styled this techno-utopianism of the early 2000s. Today brands like Eytys and Heavn reimagine this look to its best effect with distressed finishes that add a more relaxed look.
3. Body Contouring
Gen-Z might have been too young to have fully embraced the midriff-baring, butt-skimming ensembles favored at the time, but now as young adults growing nostalgic for a simpler time, they’re reaching for all the body contouring, and sleek ensembles their bank accounts can handle. @eboneedavis here shows us how to do double denim the Y2K way with asymmetric crop top and jeans in light stonewash shades.
4. Print It Out Loud
Prints in the '00s were about two things: all-over logos or digital print. Either way it's about loud and bold patterns, so look to reimagine these looks with digital recreations for a new nod to the decade that was.
5. High Contrast Fades
The one thing we all remember about denim in the early 00s were those awful pre-distressed fades. Think Michael Jordan with ghastly honeycomb effects in all the wrong places or those high contrast whiskers on Simon Cowell’s True Religion jeans. For the most part these types of finishes have been relegated to the doldrums of TKMAX rails. But brands like Balenciaga and Jaded London are finding joy in replicating these fade patterns through novel finishes like laser and overdyed techniques.