New Millennium: The Y2K Aesthetic That Took Korean Fashion By Storm

Style trends from the early 2000s have made a comeback in the recent Korean fashion scene.

Early 2000s fashion has now become synonymous with the Y2K aesthetic, featuring crop tops, low-rise jeans, and velvet tracksuits.

After a long hiatus due to the pandemic, Seoul Fashion Week 2022 saw the comeback of this nostalgic style.

According to Korean shopping platform Zigzag, searches for Y2K fashion grew by 61% early last year. Zigzag’s customers are largely made up of teenagers and young adults in their early 20s.

While older Millennials have a more nostalgic outlook on the aesthetic, Generation Z have found these recent trends to be fresh. It’s a new way to experience the popular style from over 20 years ago.

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Image via Instagram @jennierubyjane

K-Pop icons Taeyeon from Girls’ Generation and Jennie from Blackpink are just some of the celebrities who have recently sported Y2K fashion.

Taeyeon’s whole concept for her solo comeback “Weekend” embraced the aesthetic of early 2000s music videos, with her all-pink tracksuit jacket, shorts, and bandana. The use of props like old Macintosh computers and cassette players also help to set the scene.

Jennie has also welcomed the trend by posting photos of her outfits on Instagram. From her all-green tracksuit reminiscent of Juicy Couture to her all-pink crop top and low-rise skirt combo, it’s no wonder why she’s one of K-Pop’s It Girls.

Some of the K-Pop groups that have been riding this Y2K wave are NewJeans and NCT. Having just debuted in July 2022, NewJeans have been consistent with their aesthetic, with their butterfly hair clips in “Attention” and analog music video, “Ditto.”

Lee Min-sun, a professor at Konkuk University who specializes in fashion marketing and consumer psychology, says that “Y2K is for sure remaining in 2023. It’s already been around for a couple of years, and a large portion of NewJeans’s success can be attributed to how it captured the ongoing trend quite well.”

NCT, a group that’s been around since 2016, have amassed a large fanbase with a strong identity. Korean fans of the group have been known for sporting monochromatic Y2K looks, complete with arm warmers and chunky boots or sneakers.

The subunit NCT Dream have also recently made a comeback with a cover of “Candy,” the 1996 single by H.O.T. who are considered to be the first K-Pop idol group.

Wearing fuzzy hats and gloves, brightly colored jerseys, and baggy pants, the younger boy group brought back the clothes worn in the original music video and stage performances.

It’s an homage to the early trendsetters and a sign that style eras are always bound to come back around.

Banner photo via Instagram @jennierubyjane.

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