Paparazzi shots from 2003 flood Instagram feeds and explore pages. The most popular influencers look like they just stepped out of a Beverly Hills club with Paris Hilton. ‘Style inspo’ TikToks are full of pieces that haven’t been popular since “One Tree Hill” and “Gossip Girl” aired on TV. All of this points to the fact that fashion from the early 2000s, commonly shortened to Y2K, has come to the forefront of style over the last few years, and people seem to love it. But why?
Though this resurgence of 2000s fashion may seem like it comes out of nowhere, the revival of styles popular in past decades has been happening for years. Known as the “20-year-rule”, there is a general assumption that popular trends will be brought back into prominence roughly 20 years after they were initially popular.
According to Harper’s Bazaar, the idea of fashion as a collection of cyclical trends has been around for centuries. This idea has been adapted and reinterpreted countless times, but essentially boils down to two factors: the appeal of nostalgia and the novelty of ‘new’ styles to younger generations.
So what does this mean? And why is it changing now?
Recently, social media has had a polarizing influence on style cycles and has arguably overpowered this fashion rule that has been around for a century. The A Magazine states that the rise in social media has contributed to the 20-year cycle becoming even shorter. Because of how accessible style influences have become, overconsumption is often encouraged with the popularity of sites like Shein (paired with the fact that influencers abandon fads as quickly as they find them).
Many returning styles are met with mixed opinions, the most divisive being low-rise vs. high-rise jeans. Whether Y2K is your preferred style or not, the key to sustainably contributing to this fashion phenomenon — and the inevitable resurgence of the 2010s — is to scour your local thrift stores or resale sites like Depop. Not only is it a cheap alternative, but it gives new life to pieces that would otherwise go to waste. So go out there and enjoy your halter tops, baby tees and low-rise jeans!