Bring It (Y2K) Back

Isobel Howard

Sophie in pink chunky sunglasses

Remember pleated skirts, velour tracksuits, chunky sunnies, wide leg jeans, the colour pink, and low waisted everything? 

This supposedly, could have been about yesterday or in fact from 1990s/early 2000s; who would have realised?

Oops! I Did it Again is at the top of the charts, MTV music videos everywhere you turn, butterfly tops. Need I say more. Yes, because this era was gaudy (in a phenomenal way). The days of The Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child, Sugababes and of course not forgetting Kylie Minogue and not Jenner. Where nobody – absolutely nobody cared less about ‘insta’ likes, follows, or unfollows and where fashion evolved dramatically to an insane level of chicness.

Only difference is the social media explosion and with this, the Tik Tok frenzy during the long months of Covid-19. Having this platform widened its horizons to lure more and more people in with its addictive short, snippet clips combined with a global pandemic of everybody instructed to stay inside; it was inevitable Tik Tok would be an enormous triumph.

Sophie stood outside on a street in Headingley

The launch of Bratz dolls played a huge role in the influence of fashion of its day, which was very early 2000s. Styles were assembled together to create the ‘Y2K’ fashion era which now within the 21st Century, is seeming to be gaining huge popularity once again across the Generation Z’s. And this doesn’t seem to be anything to complain about. 

Now in 2022, young women (and men) are strutting their stuff in cropped sequin tops and miniskirts, which is not any different to nearly 30 years ago. 

Y2K Sequin Top

Sophie White has been a student for three years, living in the vibrant, edgy, and assuredly the place for an experimental phase through various fashion styles. Headingley – where thousands of students are based for the few years they study (or not) at university, trial and erroring their way through to eventually, discovering their “vibe.”

She’s got a passion for fashion
Being a fashion lover herself, she certainly keeps up to date with the latest fashion trends when she heads out on a night. And she is no stranger to designing a show-stopping outfit together. With her degree in Fashion Marketing, she seems to look the part.

Sophie getting herself ready to go on a ‘night out’

“I think I prefer the putting together of my outfit than the actual going out part to be honest!”

Sophie continues, “When me and my friends are getting ready for a night out, they always come into my room to have a nosey through my wardrobe to see what they can borrow. At first, I didn’t like it at all but now, to be honest, I actually quite like it!”

“Don’t tell anyone but it actually gives me a little bit of an ego boost, knowing that I’ve got the best fashion sense!”

Sophie and her housemate drinking together before their ‘night out’

With Leeds being an indie city with students based in the Hyde Park and Headingley area, there’s always room for improvement within your ‘look.’ Trends are always interchanging but the Y2K style making a comeback has shaped the Millennials. 

However, this craze for constant new outfits does not come cheap. 

“It is quite difficult as a student obviously affording all these nice outfits but that’s really where all the money I earn goes. Some people think that this is a stupid way to spend money, but this is what I’m passionate about and I just love how I feel in these clothes.”

Runway collections have now been adopted and filtered by high street brands to make them readily available to everyone. This being the ‘Trickle-Down Theory’ coined by economist Thorstein Veblen in 1889. Essentially, where an adaptation of modernistic styles of a specific era are taken and then offered to customers at much lower rates. Which is the reason why so many can now purchase these voguish items and able to sashay around local supermarkets in low-rise jeans paired with a tight tee.

Some major fashion brands such as; Jaded London and Urban Outfitters are examples of ‘Trickle-Down Theory’ where they have imitated high-end, designer clothing by allowing for more affordability for their consumers. These can also be noted across the whole of Sophie’s wardrobe.

Sophie wearing the Urban Outfitters brand ‘iets frans…’ tracksuit which is very similar to the 90s/00s velour

Naturally, with the stylish gear lowered down to a much cheaper price, an increased number of shoppers may be aware of this and more likely to cooperate to pay these reduced prices.

As Sophie can be included within this bracket where she has also noticed this difference, “I see it in shops and online too, and obviously with online shopping being so popular now, I see it a lot more duplicates of the styles or patterns which are first seen by well-known brands but at much bargained prices.”

According to Healthy Human Life, the global population has doubled since 1970 and along with this, witnessed the rapid increase of the demand for the fashion market. Therefore, this inflation means there is more opportunities for fashion retailers to cut costs on several processes which then allow the overall costs of clothing items for a customer to be much cheaper than high street stores. 

SHEIN is renowned for being an ultra-fast fashion online company, originated and ran by China, and has now enticed a huge quantity of the world’s population who have kindly added to their revenue of nearly $10 billion.

“I’ve been using SHEIN since the first lockdown as I kept seeing ads for their website but at first, I thought it was some kind of scam page, so I always clicked off it. A couple months later somebody on Tik Tok did a ‘haul’ on one of their videos and they showed all these different items of clothing which looked absolutely amazing. She then said at the end of the video that she had only paid £80 for everything! And I’m talking denim shorts, dresses, tops, bikinis, skirts, basically everything you can think of.”

Nevertheless, SHEIN now holds many rumours that could potentially affect its brand. People have slammed the online clothing site as mistreating their employees by going against child labour laws. Speculations which signify truth, that their workers are forced to do excessively long hours partnered with such little reward – being their salary. It seems difficult to be able to understand SHEIN’s ethics behind their brand as they provide unclear and misleading information to the public.

With their abundantly diminished prices of clothing they are selling, the production and quality demonstrates this as garments are reported as ‘terrible’. This may be due to the pace of which trends shift and therefore, SHEIN are trying to match these by producing extremely low-quality clothing to satisfy their consumers. And for several years, this has been the case as there are a vast number who enjoy shopping at SHEIN. The fabrics utilised to fund SHEIN’s business have been said to have severe environmental impacts and are continuing to damage each time a customer presses order.

Sophie explains, “I, myself, use SHEIN quite frequently if I’m being honest, and when I’ve heard and read about these negative comments about it, I do feel bad knowing that I am contributing to the problems. But I don’t think SHEIN will lose out on customers as I know so many who still shop on there and don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.”

“Some people with lots of followers on social media will promote SHEIN, regardless of the detrimental issues surrounding it.”

Sophie and her housemate getting ready for a ‘night out’ together, wearing vibrant flared trousers

Fashion usually only comes back around every 50 years, however, is now only around 20 years, if that!
So as mentioned, flared jeans, flannel shirts and not forgetting the low waisted skirts ruling the 90s. This fashion era still dominates the youth of 2022 where even now, chainmail tops and low-rise maxi skirts are in popular demand. The 1980s were all about the biker shorts, leather jackets and oh yes, leg warmers. And these unexpectedly, have also made a return. Who would have thought? High waist governed the 70s Disco era alongside chunky platform boots and the corduroy craze. Bandanas were another popular fashion trend in the 1960s which are now again, very groovy within today’s culture. The 50s silhouetted elegance and class where mid-length pencil skirts were very on trend. One particular item of clothing which still holds popularity is the silk scarf.

Sophie explains, “I was so excited when I saw all these trends coming back around because I know my mum still has some of these bits of clothing which I couldn’t wait to steal from her wardrobe!”

Sophie holding old brick-like phone, wearing square 2000s inspired sunglasses and velour tracksuit

Just when you thought that was where the history lesson ended, how could the most famous garment all the way back from the Victorian era be neglected? The one and only; the corset. Now these have come back even better than ever as instead of nearly suffocating you to death when worn for longer than 20 minutes, they have now matured into a more cosy and pleasurable wear. As seen on The Met Gala’s red carpet, the corset is not a fashion piece to forget about.

Within fashion trends, there will always be those bits of clobber which have never seemed to go out of the stylish ‘label’. These including leather jackets, LBD (Little Black Dress), converse trainers, animal prints. Therefore, if an outfit consisting of the above items can be cleverly designed, this would be much appreciated!
It was inevitable that the extreme advancement of the technological world would have many beneficial assets. Sophie explained, “Social media is obviously so widely used across the younger generation and so, that’s where most of my fashion inspiration comes from. For example, if I see some of the bigger influencers or models wearing an outfit, I’ll then want to buy that top or skirt or whatever it might be because I know it looks good and is on trend at the minute.” 

Sophie looking in the mirror whilst doing her makeup

“Fashion trends now are so fast, like something could be on such a small scale but then Instagram will be rapid in helping it to flourish so quickly. And so, sometimes within hours, it will on trend.”

Unfortunately though, and aside from all this excitement, we shouldn’t ignore the underlying consequences which accompany large and usually the most popular fashion brands. Fast fashion has gradually begun to influence heavily on how clothing became notable at budget retail prices.

There are a variety of clothing brands who unexpectedly, are within this remit of ‘fast fashion’ which globally, is becoming more of a concern. Though this is worrying, with the costs of these items being significantly less; many shoppers are more likely to purchase from these types of stores. And designer retailers are extremely dubious to budge their prices down to a more affordable level as this would demolish the whole concept of ‘high-status’ attire.

After documenting Sophie’s night outs for several weeks, the transparency of her passion for fashion was extraordinary. She demonstrated the nostalgia, excitement and fascination of ‘Y2K’ fashion and with it still being in its prime within 2022.

Y2K inspired items on Sophie’s desk