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Celebrities And The Y2K Fashion Critics

When revisiting the nostalgia trends of the 2000s, how often do we forget where these trends originated from?

Credit: YouTube / Doechii, Doja Cat, Ethel Cain, JTWORLD

Fashion has seemed to take a turn towards nostalgia, comfortability, and abstract trends. Since the start of the 2020s, aspects of 2000s fashion deemed “Y2K” have become more mainstream. Even an increase in thrifting clothes to find bright, unique, and often vintage clothing items. Alongside this came the rise of makeup and clothing reminiscent of what celebrities wore when our generation was just in diapers.

We seem to be perpetually stuck in a moment of reminiscence, and irony in such nostalgia. Recognizing the horrors of the past decades, yet romanticizing the popular culture of it. Thus, historically contextual visuals are prevalent through celebrities like Ethel Cain who aims to critique the era of the 90s-2000s. Similar to this, Black female musicians utilize the Y2K aesthetics as an act of reclaiming appropriated trends.

Ethel Cain tackles American patriotism

Ethel Cain notably utilized the familiar nostalgia of Y2K in the visuals for her song American Teenager. The hit single from her debut album Preacher’s Daughter landed on Barack Obama’s top songs of 2022. Thereafter, Cain commented on the irony of her lyrics indirectly unpacking the damage done by war on Obama’s playlist. Without directly addressing the former President, Cain successfully evoked a bittersweet mix of nostalgia and critique of Obama’s involvement.

Cain reacts to the hypocrisy of her song being enjoyed by a former president on her personal X account – X / @PopCrave

However, the Florida-born musician boasts a recognizably withered Americana aesthetic through faded denim shorts and spaghetti-strap tanks. She embodies the dated minimalism that made a Southern suburban “it-girl” of the decade. Her versatile aesthetic highlights faded American flags, withered midwestern bars, and vibrant neon lights against a night sky. She creates irony in the visual manifestations of the dying American dream and the chaos that ensues in our generation.

JT snaps on the Y2K sounds of “Sideways”

In addition to Cain’s critical commentary, Black female musicians are reclaiming Y2K. JT from the rap-duo City Girls sports a Pixie Hollow outfit on the cover of her next single, “Sideways”. The single artwork is styled as a CD that could be found at a second-hand music shop. The song itself features reminiscent sounds like the opening of a Windows ’98 computer. JT even pays homage to an outfit from fellow female rapper Jacki-O from the 2003 Billboard Hip-Hop Awards.

JT on the nostalgic cover of her latest single, Sideways – X / @JTcoded

Surprisingly, the “Y2K” concept seems to add to itself with each year of the 2020s. JT is one of many artists re-visiting the extravagantly colorful wardrobes of the 2000s. Dripping with excessive detail and celebrating the unapologetic expressions of femininity, celebrities are embracing femme pop stars of the past few decades.

Doja Cat & Doechii claim Y2K rap/hip-hop

Similarly, the radically extravagant wardrobes of rappers Doja Cat and Doechii on the recent Scarlet tour occurred the past fall. Each night, the pair debuted a completely new look featuring excessive accessories like jewelry, colored contacts, and hats. Modeling fantasies of a Black hick, a modern Marie Antoinette, and even what some may go as far as deeming “trucker-core” on stages across the country to accompany their empowered anthems.

Doja Cat dressed in a Y2K Marie Antoinette look for the Scarlet Tour – X / @DojaNews

Doechii utilizes the makeup trend of dark and unblended lipliner on top a lighter lipstick shade or sealed under shining lip gloss. This Y2K phenomenon originated in the 90’s in Black and Chicana communities but is often re-appropriated by white fashion moguls. Each of these 3 rappers is working to call back to the original creators of our most notable trends. Doechii dominates the stage with the story of her come-up in the music industry: “a real swamp bitch” as the rapper has branded it.

Doechii rocking a camouflage color palette on her final appearance on the Scarlet Tour – X / @justdoechii

Undeniably, mainstream artists are using gritty textures and earthy color palettes to tell stories with their clothes more than ever before. In addition, artists are utilizing direct callbacks and allusions to the icons of yesterday. These elevated fantasy looks akin to the most crafty Drag queens of our time can turn any person into a gator-trucker hybrid, a badass fairy, or literal rapper royalty.

Clothes & conscious consumerism

Evidently, aesthetics have ruled our ways of doing the day-to-day. As well, interacting with the world through the lens of an aesthetic breaks the monotonous cycles of late-stage Capitalism. The majority of working-class citizens around the U.S. unwillingly, and often unknowingly follow the modern model of economic slavery. Yet, we find means of consumerism to keep us entertained, inspired, and connected.

Fashion in the modern era can be used to critique the systems we are forced to live under. Yet, this critique requires mindfulness of where trends and clothing items originated. As well as acknowledging the literal blood, sweat, and tears that may have gone into creating our clothes.

From the sweatshops of SHEIN to the hand-me-downs of yesteryear, the previous decades may follow us more and more as we progress into modernism. Therefore, the real question is: what does your outfit say about you and where you’d put your money?

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Written By

Remi is a Junior Media Studies major at the University of San Francisco, and brings insight of cultural trends, social identities, sociological patterns and a sense of spirituality to her writing.

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