Have you ever wanted to live out your Bratz doll, Clueless or 2000s pop star fashion fantasy? Well, now is your time to shine, because the eclectically fun Y2K style is making a huge comeback thanks to Gen-Z TikTok users. We’re talking bright colors, bold patterns, chunky jewelry and designer brands. Say no more to the gray sweatpants life of 2020 and go full-Y2K this summer because, honestly, why not? Summer 2021 is all about having fun and not taking life too seriously (and that motto also applies to our clothes).
If you’re not well-versed in the world of Gen-Z and TikTok, Y2K is the style that shaped the late ‘90s and early 2000s—think Paris Hilton’s track suits, Elle Woods in Legally Blonde and basically everything about Bring It On and Mean Girls. Y2K is, essentially, an outfit that doesn’t follow any “rules,” yet still works. It’s fun, playful, and nostalgic.
Like so many other trends this past year, TikTok has been the primary driver behind the Y2K movement. The style had been steadily gaining popularity again, consistent with the 20-year cycle of fashion. One user aiding the Y2K comeback is @ageorama, who posted a video in April 2021 of what she would wear as a 2000s era pop star, emanating Britney Spears, Rihanna and Beyoncé. The video went viral almost immediately and soon millions of TikTok users were joining in on the trend with their own renditions.
Outside of TikTok, the Y2K trend has spread via models and influencers. Supermodel and fashion enthusiast Bella Hadid has always been a driver of trends, particularly early 2000s-inspired fashion. As soon as she posted an Instagram selfie with a zig-zagged hair-part, users across all social media platforms were sporting a similar if not identical look.
Kim Kardashian initially rose to prominence in the early 2000s as Paris Hilton’s friend and occasional stylist before her family skyrocketed to fame with Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Kim recently released a velour collection for her shapewear and loungewear brand Skims, in which she enlisted the help of Hilton to recreate iconic paparazzi photos from their velour tracksuit-wearing days to promote the line.
Most of Gen-Z were kids during the original Y2K phase, so its comeback serves as a nostalgic look to our childhood and the carefree attitude that came along with it. Wearing the mini-pleated skirts, chunky plastic jewelry, creative hairstyles and crazy mix-matched patterns is one way of coping with the stress and gravity of the pandemic. It’s almost as if the re-emergence of Y2K is symbolic of new beginnings in a post-pandemic world, just as the original Y2K marked the dawn of the 21st century.
Most commercial stores, like Zara, Urban Outfitters and H&M, are now selling Y2K style clothes, but if you’re looking for a local and more ethical way of achieving this latest trend, thrifting is a great option. Without going back in time, thrift stores are the most authentic way to buy styles of clothing that were most popular during the original Y2K era.
You’re in luck, too, because Salt Lake City has some amazing thrift stores. Here’s a quick list to get you started on living out your best Y2K pop star summer.
3355 S. Highland Dr., SLC, 801-486-1128
414 E. 300 South, SLC, 801-833-2272
627 State St., SLC, 801-537-1357
353 W. 200 South, SLC, 801-931-3388
4290 State St., SLC, 801-506-1655
743 W. 700 South, SLC, 801-240-7202
1401 S. Main St., SLC, 385-242-7060
1147 S Ashton Ave., SLC, 801-484-7996
Click here to explore the latest in fashion and style.