It's December 31, 1999. As the count for the new year keeps going, people are expecting bad things to happen. Many were scared because of the Year 2000 problem (commonly known as Y2K problem, Millennium bug, Y2K bug, Y2K glitch, or Y2K error). The Y2K problem referred to computer errors related to the formatting and storage of calendar data for dates in and after 2000. Many programs represented four-digit years with only the final two digits, making the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900. Computer systems' inability to distinguish dates correctly had the potential to bring down worldwide infrastructures for industries ranging from banking to air travel.
On the other hand, just like in 2012 and other years, some people thought that the world would end. But, when the clock hit midnight, nothing happened. Every bad omen disappeared, and only the hope for a promising future remained.
Inspiration grew from the rise of the internet and the endless possibilities that the tech world offered. Of course, this translated into fashion. With a new millennium only inches away, clothes were a visual representation of the fun, technologically advanced, and utopian future that '90s societies were excitedly and optimistically envisioning.
Alexander McQueen for Givenchy's Autumn 1999.
Futurism and technology became icy blue, silver, white, black, metallic colors, blob-like forms, shiny materials, transparency, and luminosity in the fashion language. "Matrix" is a great example of this style, with Neo's sleek black leather looks and signature sunglasses. Baggy cargo trousers and cute techy accessories were also in fashion.
TLC in 1996's Grammy Awards.
Unfortunately, everything came to an abrupt stop when the reality of the socio-political climate appeared. 9/11 and the Iraq War shattered the utopian dreams and forced society to realize the new millennium wasn't so different from the last one. This time, more colorful, cheerful, and driven by ultra-consumerism, excess, and pop culture. Awake in the real world, new realistic optimism for the future grew.
Lil' Kim, Mya, Christina Aguilera, and Pink in 2001.
Celebrities like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Cameron Diaz, Beyoncé, and Nicole Richie became trendsetters with their velour Juicy Couture tracksuits, bedazzled Ed Hardy t-shirts, super low-cut denim pants, low slung belts, cropped tops, and Von Dutch trucker hats. This, popularly called Y2K fashion, was the epitome of the McBling aesthetic.
Britney Spears with her Juicy Couture tracksuit
Like Y2K, McBling's downfall was because of the side effect of the social climate of the time. 2008's economic crisis put everyone down to earth, and luxurious clothing became offensive and tasteless.
Like music, cinema, decoration, and art, fashion is also attached to the "20 Years Law", where a trend goes through a period of emergence, hatred, and acceptance again throughout those years. So, while many didn't want Y2K to come back, it was inevitable that it would.
Prominent on social networks like Instagram or TikTok (the hashtags #Y2KAesthetic and #Y2Kfashionon have collective 405 million views and counting on TikTok), Y2K fashion was adopted by Generation Z. During the creation of the style, this generation was too young to wear it, but now, as teenagers or young adults, they feel the nostalgia of their childhood in this fashion and turn to it a longing for the older simple times.
Fashion designers are embracing Y2K fashion as well. Probably, the most known brand for this trend is Blumarine. Nicola Brognano, Blumarine's creative director, takes inspiration from the decade's early years for every collection. For resort 2022, the brand debuted ruffled minidresses, bedazzled belts, butterfly tops, and low-slung denim. "My Blumarine is more dirty, bitchy, sexier", said Broganano in an interview with Vogue.
Blumarine resort 2022.
Celebrities are also victims of this trend. Rihanna, Dua Lipa, Bella Hadid, and others were seen with Y2K looks, giving them a new, modern twist.
Some important celebrities for this style are Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Destiny's Child, and Paris Hilton. As well as the Bratz, Elle Wood from Legally Blonde, Regina George from Mean Girls, Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and The City, and The Matrix.
What Y2K garments can we see today? Among many examples, we can find garments such as:
▪ Baby Tees
Little tops with phrases, cute characters, or patterns.
▪ Metallic or shiny fabrics
Both in pants and jackets, tops, or other types of garments
▪ Baguette bags
A small bag is carried over the shoulder with a short strap. So-called because it is used is like how the French brings baguette bread.
Pleated, with vibrant colors or patterns.
▪ Colorful glasses, bandanas, butterfly buckles, and other kitsch accessories.
▪ Velvet Tracksuit
Inspired by the famous Juicy Couture garment.
▪ Tops with front ties or straps.
The infamous Versace platform heels are a great example.
▪ Wide pants.
▪ Translucent clothing.
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