THE PROBLEM WITH THE Y2K AESTHETIC
There’s no denying that the early and mid-2000s fashion is making a comeback in recent years. The era of fashion that people used to ridicule for its low rise jeans and bold fashion statements is now the inspiration for the new generation 20 years later. This isn’t new in the fashion world, this is described to be the “20-year rule” the concept that something popular now will be popular again in 20 years. So in 20 years’ time, studded platform boots and emoji leggings will make their comeback in 2040… or for our sakes don’t.
However, the Y2K aesthetic is not as accurately represented as one presumes. It seems like nowadays people watch Mean Girls, A Simple Life, and House Bunny once and think that’s all there is to Y2K fashion.
It’s no surprise that the aesthetic quickly became whitewashed with white people taking the pink, the rhinestone, the playboy, and mini skirts and said, “YUP that’s the 2000s!” when that’s far from the truth. The 2000s fashion is more than just Paris Hilton’s closet and I’ll tell you why.
Before we start it’s important to differentiate the different subsections of Y2K fashion.
There are the early 2000s (2000-2005) this is the era that most people are fond of as the style was still heavily influenced by the late 90s.
Then there are the mid-2000s (2005-2007), this is the era with the questionable fashion choices like dresses over jeans, skirts over jeans, think young Ashley Tisdale on the red carpet.
Last, there are the late 2000s (2007-2009) that most associate with the 2010s, this era is kind of a mixed bag, from 80s fashion inspiration to the boho “hipster” gossip girl fashion.
My problem with the Y2K aesthetic (take a shot every time I say that), is that people fail to acknowledge the heavy influence of black culture. Without Black Americans, the trends we have today would be nonexistent. Ever heard of Nike Air Forces? Thank Nelly and other black artists of that time for popularizing it. Bandanas, chunky jewelry, tracksuits, bucket hats, are just a FEW of the trends that black people created.
One big trend that is usually looked over is Logomania, which is the practice of wearing garments with designer logos all over them. Daniel Day, better known as Dapper Dan would illegally screenprint luxury brands logos all over his designs. Black artists of the 2000s are the REASON why high fashion couture is so mainstream now within streetwear.
Brands like: Apple Bottoms, Baby Phat, FUBU, etc, and fashion icons like Lil Kim, Beyonce, Megan Good, Christina Milian, etc are often overlooked and not appreciated as much as the white celebrities of the time. What makes the situation worse is that, when black girls now in 2020 take inspiration from the 2000s they are labeled as “ghetto and trashy” but non-black people do it, it’s “yes y2k queen!” There’s racism in the y2k community that needs to be addressed especially when black people are the main creators of the trends we wear.
To conclude, the next time you want to take inspiration from the early 2000s, try looking at other celebrities, specifically non-white ones for inspiration. Because, the world has passed the need for Paris Hilton (who’s racist by the way).