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Y2K’s Days Are Numbered: the ’70s Are Back Highsnobiety

Trends are fleeting, so that the general Y2K obsession has lasted as long as it has is quite a feat. Trends are also circular, though, so it only figures that Y2K’s successor would be another distinct era in fashion.

Suddenly, it’s the 1970s once again. Well, at least, there are enough ’70s vibes in the air that folks have already begun sounding Y2K’s death knell.

There’s no reason that multiple decades can’t simultaneously exist in fashion, obviously, but there is typically a prevailing theme and it does feel like the ’70s is better poised than any other era to take center stage.

Literally, even: at the 2024 Grammys, Miley Cyrus performed in vintage Bob Mackie with hair piled high, hitting two ’70s cues simultaneously.

A few days prior, at Marc Jacobs’ Spring/Summer 2024 presentation, similarly huge hairdos maximized otherwise shrunken models clad in blown-up doll clothes of a decidedly retro flavor. We’re talking tartan overcoats and broad-shouldered leather blazers, for crying out loud.

Leading up to a proper ’70s revival, we’ve tracked rising demand for shoes popular in the ’70s; trending silhouettes from adidas alone include the Country sneaker, the SL72 sneaker, and the Samba sneaker, born in ’49 but most beloved in the ’70s.

Elsewhere, current interest in retro style is epitomized by Pharrell’s recent wardrobe: big sunglasses and flared denim jeans occasionally layered beneath a fur coat.

The SS24 collections were similarly packed with psychedelic color, washed-out denim, and snug knitwear, collectively reiterating an unmistakable note of ’70s flavor.

Now, just because things are starting to feel trippy in a hippy kinda way doesn’t mean that Y2K is necessarily going anywhere.

Like I said earlier, the vastness of available clothing means that all eras can effectively exist and be referenced at the same time.

Plus, part of Y2K’s ample appeal came from how Gen Z developed nostalgia for an era it barely remembered, if at all. Gen Z and Alpha certainly doesn’t possess any fond memories of the ’70s.

Y2K also persisted because it was fluid. There was no singular meaning and it could be applied to retro-kitsch tech, previously stigmatized Ed Hardy tops, or Matrixcore sunglasses as the wearer saw fit.

Nostalgia was in the eye of the beholder, here.

The ’70s flavoring is a bit more specific, typically tied to identifiable cues like sneaker shapes and clothing silhouettes.

But that still means that the ’70s inspiration could inform a series of standalone garments rather than an all-encompassing movement. Similarly, we might witness the ’70s comeback relegated to standout red carpet looks, as stylists begin reaching back to the Halston era.

Like, Y2K T-shirts and hoodies ostensibly could co-exist with teased-up hair and ’70s kitten heels. So Y2K doesn’t have to die for the ’70s to thrive but it must make room.

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