The 2000s are Back: Y2K Fashion Roots
By: Micah Ferguson
Low-waisted jeans. Tiny sunglasses. Denim skirts. Platform shoes. Innate swag. The greatest wonder of The New Millenium wasn’t just the computer bug that sent programmers into a frenzy, nor the results of the rather controversial presidential election. The transformative fashion has come full circle 20 years later on multiple social media platforms such as Tik Tok, Instagram, and of course the pinnacle of all Internet fashion, Pinterest. Tik Tokkers have begun sporting hair clips and pleated denim skirts, inspiring followers to take to the thrift stores. Y2K styles, sometimes used interchangeably with “Indie” on Pinterest, have been on a steady increase since July. The 2000s are back baby. But where did this iconic style come from?
Even in the wake of a repeated fashion era, those spearheading the return of 2000s fashion have failed to acknowledge the true pioneers of these popular styles, attributing low-waisted jeans solely to icons like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Truth be told, the Queen B(ee)’s of these styles are our beloved 2000s, Black girl groups. The singers of popular hits like “Say My Name,” “No Scrubs,” “As If,” and “Survivor” have been given all but the credit of popularizing these fads. As Angela Morris, a peer-reviewed author from the University of Texas at Austin says in her article, “Fashion, social media, and identity expression,” marginalized groups such as Black women tend to launch fashion trends while remaining underrepresented. So, it’s time we take a look at some of the founders of our favorite style as we finally remember our Y2K roots.
One of the most popular groups of the 2000s, most notable for their hit “Say My Name,” had their start in 1990 and produced one of the most popular female artists of the decade, Beyonce Knowles. Destiny’s Child’s famous appearance at the 2000s Hip Hop awards encapsulates the grassroots of the 2000s style. Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams pose together in their entirely bedazzled bikini tops with matching low-rise bottoms. Rowland’s open-toed platform boots and William’s low heels are the cherry on top. Their appearance predates socialite Paris Hilton’s rise to popularity in 2003. The group’s extravagant and patterned matching sets were everything but gaudy, and their most famous ‘fits contain low-rise jeans (of course), floral patterns, shiny leathery materials, jewel-encrusted belts, tube tops, and brassieres. They turned tacky into tasteful.
Blaque, consisting of members Natina Reed, Shamari Fears, and Brandi Williams, released their 2000s hit “As If” in the movie, Bring It On. The accompanying music video features the group in baggy, athletic pants with matching crop tops, each representing a single color. This group in particular was no stranger to exploring different hairstyles. Reed often sported hair clips as well as multiple ponytails atop her head with ballies tying it all together. Known for their Afrofuturism, as Jesi Taylor Cruz from Medium explains, they were able to combine bubblegum pop and R&B not only in their music but in their girly persona. One particular picture under the “Black girl aesthetic” tab on Pinterest shows the trio in metallic cropped bubblegum colored jacket vests with matching futuristic arms bands. For this girl group, the future is Feminine.
TLC, the tomboys of the three, was started in 1991 in Atlanta, Georgia by Tionne Watkins, Lia Lopes, and Crystal Jones. Most likely best known for their hit, “No Scrubs”, the group could often be seen wearing, “…baggy denim and oversized tees to midriff-baring bra tops and low-rise pants…” says CR Fashion, as seen above in their 2005 Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards outfits. They were extremely well known for their safe sex advocacy by making statements through their fashion, DIYing men’s jeans, wearing overalls, pantsuits, men’s boxers, lace-up front shirts (which are making an extreme comeback right now), and of course, oversized everything as Billboard notes in their article about fashion inspired by the group. From social statements to fashion statements, TLC did it all.
From the audacious divas to the cool tomboys, fashion today has become an eclectic array of pieces and trends with an extensive history. Diving into some background on our favorites creates a deeper understanding of and appreciation for our fashion roots. So next time you slide on some platform shoes, remember the ladies who did it first.