Cycles of Fashion Trends

Molly Carrigan, Editor-in-Chief

Fashion has a funny way of coming back, and 2000’s fashion is no exception. With a kaleidoscope of colors and styles, Y2K  trends which were the first to be popularized by the internet, which had a lasting effect on the way mainstream media utilized the fashion scene to increase globalization and community. Y2K, which stands for the year 2000, was an aesthetic prevalent in pop culture from 1997-2004, and is now making headway among young teens. But what has caused the uproar of early millennia style? One might say that the 20-year cycle, and social media’s influence on this iconic decade in fashion has rocked our world.

The 20-year cycle holds true for many aspects of fashion. Clothing, accessories, and even generalized profiles return in a very predictable way. The 20 year cycle is where a new trend goes through the process of introduction, rise, decline and resurrection. Although not a new concept, designers continue to take inspiration from their predecessors in hopes of revitalizing nostalgic styles from previous decades. Similar to how the 2020s have conclusive similarities to the 2000s, the 2010s did the same from the 90s, 90s from the 70s, and so on.  

As Y2K culture continues to come back, the revitalization of certain trends is becoming more and more prominent. Velour tracksuits, and low-rise jeans are just some of Gen-Z’s new fashion addictions. Velour tracksuits were a staple of athleisure wear in the early 2000s. Rocked out and about by Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, these statement pieces were sure to catch anyone’s attention. 20 years later, they’re making a comeback- Fabletics, a popular activewear brand released their Velour collaboration with “High School Musical” star Vanessa Hudgens in December of 2021. Despite presenting classic and modernized silhouettes, they’ve kept in tune with what made these so iconic. 

Maybe the most iconic, as well as controversial 2000s trends coming back are low-rise jeans. Sitting on, or just above the hips, this style of pant took the world by storm, and in a variety of styles such as flared, bootcut and embroidered. These truly are the complete opposite of the 2010’s popular “ultra-rise jeans,” which dominated streetwear brands for the majority of the past decade. People were, and still are, concerned however with the lack of inclusivity they bring about in the fashion community. Many agree that low-rise jeans promote one singular body type: a skinny one. Joelle Shen (‘25) weighed in saying “low rise jeans enforce negative body image amongst teens.” Despite this, celebrity culture and the growing influence of everyday media, low-rise jeans continued to sell out—and fast. Now circling back, we are seeing a looser set of rules, allowing for a more comfortable and an inclusive take on this fad. Over the years, pairing them with a longer style top, or choosing a baggier version of the pants themselves, have created more than the one silhouette that was popularized by Y2K streetwear. 

Another contributor to the modernization of 2000s fashion, is the influence of social media and fast fashion. Apps like TikTok and Pinterest are major hubs for teens, cultivating in the acceleration of fading in and out trends. We see popular creators on these platforms engaging anywhere from thousands to millions of users. So instead of a slow increase, Y2K fashion boomed overnight, and trends are now reaching countless trend hungry consumers.

The impact of style icons was ever-lasting on the 2000s. Celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan were idolized not only on the red carpet but on their everyday wardrobes as well. Their influence went way beyond marketing trends, but increased the popularity of individual brands, pieces and accessories. Paris Hilton, a reality star and fashion mogul, heavily contributed to the mainstreaming of paparazzis in addition to the use of social networking sites (modernly known as social media).

All things considered, the 2000s fashion scene is one to remember. Not only contributing iconic trends and style influencers, but capitalizing on the booming new phenomena:the internet which forever changed the world we live in. Whether you’re in favor of the modernization of Y2K style or not, it’s here, and who knows what will be in store next for the fashion realm.