It seems like the inevitable has happened…the 90s agenda has finally come to a close.
I did not think I would ever see the day come where the cup of 90s influence had finally run dry. It should not be surprising to see its domination wane though as the 2010s were filled with years of constant carbon remakes of 95 – 97.
What is staggering to see is its replacement being an era claimed by many to be the ‘worst’ in terms of both fashion and music. No one expected the ‘corny’ 2000’s to become so beloved by ‘cool’ Gen Z’s but here we are.
Many will claim the Y2K movement to be another short-lived era of cultural copycatting before moving on to find another decade to steal from. While I don’t disagree severely with the notion as previously stated the long decade of snipping off the late 90’s era has slowly drifted into a pet peeve of many but admittedly Y2K feels different.
For the older generation, it may look like the past but for Gen Z it is a futuristic-tech forward dream. In the early 2000s, the world was enthralled with the computer and there was excitement about what the future of technology would look like. Strangely enough, we’re back in a similar position. The beloved pandemic has shoehorned the early 2020’s to becoming more digitally advanced than previously planned. Society is increasingly becoming cashless and the computer has grown from being just used for MSN messenger to now enabling us to work in another country straight from our bed.
Frankly, it makes perfect sense to see the ‘Cyber Y2K’ aesthetic re-enter the mainstream. The decade uniquely offers digital nostalgia – a nostalgic review of the modern world.
The Y2K style of today is not the one of late
I think we can all agree that the 2000s were a mess fashion-wise. They may have had Juicy Couture but they also wore dresses over jeans.
The Y2K style of today is not the one of late, Gen Z has revamped the look by looking further than its authentic 00’s roots. It is contemporary fashion mixed with 2000’s retro-futurism as the signature aesthetic.
A great example of this would be the return of popular 00’s brands – Juicy Couture and Baby Phat. Capitalizing on the 00s resurgence, both brands have come back with their signature fits that have noticeably been redressed in a thoroughly modern way.
It is also important to remember that both brands were pioneered by Black women and the Y2K aesthetic being populated today is an emulation of the 00’s Black woman.
The whitewashing of the movement has not gone unnoticed. On the popular Y2K tag on Pinterest, images of white women adorned in velour tracksuits and low-waisted jeans fill the explore page. Blog pages attribute the trend to white celebrities like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears yet the ‘real’ main influencers such as Blaque and Lil Kim are being erased from memory. The fact I even need to type ‘Y2K’ and ‘black women’ to find any acknowledgment of us in the trend on platforms i.e. TikTok is bitterly laughable.
Music-wise, artists such as Rina Sawayama and PinkPantheress, have both aesthetically and sonically made the aesthetic a central part of their image.
Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia has received wide critical acclaim and while not my fave offering from Normani, Motivation is iconic in a way that it fully cemented music visuals cultural shift to reimaging all things 2000s.
The early 00s saw a rise in the computer-generated sounds of electronic music and pop. Daft Punk had shaken up the scene and though released in 99’, TLC’s Fanmail had championed the rise of futuristic R&B.
Whilst TLC used the talking android Vic-E as a replacement for Left Eye, tech companies of today are using Ai as a way to replace a whole industry!
Maybe I embellished a little bit but still, the increasing rise of Artificial Intelligence music is a little bit frightening, to say the least. If you have been living under a rock and are not aware of Ai music, let me briefly explain – Ai is a technology that analyzes data from different compositions when it creates musical pieces. Learning what characteristics and patterns create music that mimics a certain genre/artist, the model is then allowed to compose ‘innovative’ musical numbers by combining different elements. Sounds cool ’til you realise its impact on music copyright and the fact we could create a robot Beyoncé…
Nonetheless, Cyber Y2K may first be given the simplistic interpretation as nostalgia, and yes that does certainly factor into it but for us Gen Z it is more than that. When thinking of our contemporary digital age, it is only the 2000s that can offer similar guidance. The tech-utopian style of the past generation is now being used as a template on how to move forward in this digitally wired world.