What do we really know about Y2K?
When most people think of Y2K, they think of the mass computer programming shortcut in 2000, that the general public feared would destroy all computers. But amongst Gen-Z, the mention of Y2K sparks images of low rise jeans, baby tank tops, layered jewelry, button-up cardigans, and bright pinks, oranges, and yellows.
Through apps such as Tik Tok, Pinterest, and Instagram, Y2K fashion has been revitalized, primarily by teenage girls in large cities across the country. Some may take influence from vintage looking paparazzi photos of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears strolling through West Hollywood in pastel tracksuits, a mini purse in one hand, and a chihuahua in the other.
However, many are unaware of the roots of Y2K, and credit must be given where credit is due. While the white women that are often credited with creating Y2K did have a role in popularizing it, the style itself was worn by black women years before the early 2000s.
“It’s a part of our culture, or I guess it’s traditional,” said Olivia Rosas (‘22). “We would begin the trends of wearing big hoops, cute sneakers, bandanas, low-rise jeans, cropped shirts… but then when people were over it they would move on to the next trend.” She adds that Y2K fashion is “cute and trendy now, but back then it would sometimes be seen as extra and at times, ghetto. Even the cute hairstyles that black girls had when we were growing up are now seen as part of the Y2K trend. It seems like the fashion trends that we begin will always be picked up at some point but changed to fit white peoples’ standards.”
Seen below are images of these styles originally modeled by black women, in contrast with newer takes on the trends from the past two years.
2001 MTV Movie Awards, LA. Graphically decorated tank, with low rise jeans and ornate gold jewelry.
A similar look of cropped tank tops and gold jewelry, present day.
The small shirt and baggy pants combo, paired with a larger layer on top.
A similar set pictured much more recently.
Low rise jeans paired with the popular smaller top. Also popular, the vibrant colors and flowery patterns.
A much more recent picture, again featuring low rise jeans with a baby crop top.
This look features a graphically busy tee, a staple of early 2000s fashion.
Once again, the pairing of lowrise jeans with smaller tanks and cardigans makes an appearance.
Gradient sunglasses, modeled here by Beyonce, another staple of the decade.
Beyonce again, modeling the bandana on her hair. While bandanas have been a multi-purpose item for decades, this particular style was especially popular in the early 2000s.
A nearly identical style, almost two decades later.
Like countless other iconic fashion decades, it seems the early 2000s are making the rounds again. Photos of this style taken in the modern day are almost indistinguishable from their original time. As a form of art, fashion is another outlet for us to express ourselves and their interests. However, we should take care to do so while acknowledging the roots of our current trends, especially when they otherwise may go unrecognized.