N.Y. (Associated Press) — The predicted demise of thin jeans arrived first. Cargo shorts, halter tops, and infant tees all made a comeback later on. Retailers can all agree on one thing: the early 2000s fashion styles that are so prevalent now are perfect for the generation born after 2000. Young employees and interns often wear pants with a wide leg. Claw clips, a hair accessory popular in the ’80s and ’90s, are making a comeback, as are mesh tops, miniskirts, and other brightly colored clothing that can make shoppers look like they’ve stepped out of a Disney Channel episode from 2004.
TikTok and other social media helped revive the so-called Y2K trend, and people started throwing parties and going out again after being cooped up during the pandemic. What started with straight-leg jeans making a reappearance and hair accessories like butterfly clips has spread to include all-denim ensembles, cargo and flare pants, and a focus on metallics. Casey Lewis, a trend analyst based in New York, has seen so many microtrends (typically labeled with the suffix “core”) surge in popularity over the previous few years that she decided to publish a weekly dedicated to them.
Consider “Barbiecore” and “mermaidcore,” two subgenres of mainstream fashion that feature translucent fabrics in ocean-inspired colours and sequins, respectively, or bright pinks reminiscent of Mattel Inc.’s iconic Barbie doll. Also popular is the “coastal granddaughter,” a younger take on the oversized cardigans and linen sets popularized by the “coastal grandmother” style. “Gen Z is not even close to being done revisiting these old trends,” said Lewis, whose “After School” newsletter records the purchasing habits of young people. They’re going to look into all the strange fashions of the past and revive them.
The fashions are being promoted through advertising campaigns and shelves at retailers ranging from the upscale Nordstrom to the budget-friendly Target and the quick fashion stores. And the market appears to be gobbling it up. According to Circana, which monitors retail sales, sales of women’s cargo pants increased by 81% from January to May (the most recent month for which data is available). H&M and Zara, two fast fashion retailers known for their low prices, have reported strong sales of biker jackets, denim, and crop tops. In addition, Shein, a Chinese fast-fashion store targeting young women, reported that sales of its baby tees had tripled in 2023, making them the year’s most popular t-shirt trend.