People are terrified and restless—possibly even allowing the wind of privilege to bend them towards boredom. Yes, it’s difficult to imagine how these emotions can occupy space in folks’ minds at once, yet here they stand in complexity. Seeing how we’ve spent over a year experiencing the swift unraveling of all we know, while endlessly scrolling on our chirping, buzzing, hellish phones and watching a predictable digital culture be built, all are conceivable.

In the midst of swiping our fingers on lit up glass, we have confused, and argued over, Y2K fashion. Though there is definite overlap in multiple style trends from the time period, Y2K style has been broken down into two primary categories–afrofuturism and the early 2000’s look.

So, what is Y2K?

Y2k was a period during the 1990s when people believed computers would register the year 2000 as 1900, putting banks, travel services and power plants in disarray, and possible danger. This was assumed to mark the end of the world and mass power outages and chaos were thought to be a definite step. Yet when the new millennium rolled around, all was well. Or as well as it could be given the state of climate change. I digress.

What does that have to do with style?

During the late 1990s, Black music artists, celebrity stylists and video directors began to craft a vision for the future, often using metallics and spaceship-like video sets to creatively convey hopeful messaging. The idea was likely more aligned with afrofuturism than doomsday, although some, like Busta Rhymes, did think the world was in danger.

Among these agents were Hype Williams, June AmbroseMissy Elliott and groups like Destiny’s Child, TLC and Blaque. Remember Destiny’s Child’s latex outfits from the “Say My Name,” video, TLC’s “No Scrubs” looks and Blaque’s iridescent ensemble from the 2000 Soul Train Awards? Do we need another reminder that Black girl groups of the 90s (and their teams) were brilliant innovators?

Some folks think that this is true Y2k style, as it leans heavily on ideas of the future. “This is what y2k looks like,” wrote Twitter user @fatherlyjada in 2020. Attached were four photos of Aaliyah, Blaque, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Devin Aoki. Fashion analyst Rashida Ward also shared her take on the more forward-thinking aspect of the trend.

What about the crop tops, logomania and fur?

Other popular circles are referring to the styles of the late 90s and early 2000s as Y2K fashion. Think Baby Phat, Juicy Couture sweats, Louis Vuitton handbags and blinged out tank tops. People are saying that Black women are the true originators of this style, as the trends were in sync with those prevalent in Black culture.

So, the next time you rock metallic two pieces or Baby Phat, or find yourself yelling into the online void about the style of yesterday, thank a Black woman.


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