Trendsetters: the return of the noughties

forget the runway, trends now start on tiktok

By Nana Frimpong

Friday, 10 December 2021

Trends come and go. Whilst they used to originate on the runway, they now start on social media platforms such as Pinterest – with TikTok helping to push the narrative further. And unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year and half, you’ll undoubtedly have been inundated with the nostalgia wave of the noughties. 

Most millennials will remember flip phones, scarf tops and small bags. Lindsay Lohan appeared in every film, Britney Spears was on every radio station and evenings were spent updating our Tumblr account. Now, Generation Z have remixed some of the topical trends of that era and made it their own. 

When you scroll through TikTok, you’ll see the very best (and worst) moments of the Y2K era on your feed. It has brought back classic musical moments such as Bring it On (“brr it’s cold in here, there must be some toros in the atmosphere”) and High School Musical (“we’re all in this together”), and the app is the place to be if you’re looking for a walk down memory lane.

The return of the noughties hasn’t just been present on TikTok. If you listen closely to some of the recent chart hits, you’ve probably heard samples of some of your favorite songs from the era. For example, T-pain’s club classic Buy you a drank was turned into a female empowerment song by Kehlani – I like Dat. And if you are into Drill, you would have heard Ardee sample a House music classic – T2 heartbroken – on his song Wasted

Another reason why TikTok is the place to be when looking for inspiration and music recommendations is because a lot of the trending sounds are from iconic songs from the 2000s, for example Dj Unk ft T-Pain – 2 step and Wipe Me Down. These songs have definitely played a small part in millennials’ lives at one point and now they’re becoming a part of the lives of the Gen Z population too.


It isn’t just the music of the noughties making a comeback, so is the fashion. From small purses (shoutout Dior and Jacquemus) and scarf tops, to velour tracksuits (the Juicy Couture classic) and wide trousers and jeans. A few of your favourite content creators have been rocking the noughties looks for a while (Grace shadrack, Tiffanie, Debbiedarko, Aly Meghani, Parisa, Koleen Diaz, Ceirra Nia, Eyes Rodgers, Meghan Rose, Dymon, Francesca Perk, Holly Marston , and Tamika Bennett to name a few). It is also interesting that a lot of Gen Zers deem 2000s fashion to be vintage, despite it still feeling relatively contemporary to many of us.

But why has there been a comeback? They say fashion is recyclable, with trends from previous generations re-emerging after around two decades, but it’s a little hard to believe that those born between 2000-2009 are now nearly 20 years old. The real question is: why has Gen Zers taken such a liking to the music, fashion and movies from this era? Interestingly, the Y2K trend seems to have emerged from our downtime in lockdown, with Gen Zers finding the nostalgia from this era comforting and a way to escape reality and look back at simpler times. With the launch of Disney Plus at the end of 2019, this only increased the nostalgia effect as it brought back childhood memories and reintroduced people to remakes of classics like The Lion King and She’s All That. 

When we look back on the 2000s, it can be seen as problematic due to its wild headlines and questionable fashion. It was, after all, the era that gave us Britney’s breakdown and subsequent conservatorship, and Janet Jackson being ‘cancelled’ for flashing Justin Timberlake at the Superbowl. We also lost 2000 icons like actor Heath Ledger and singer Michael Jackson. It is an era that millennials might not look back on wholly fondly, with some even advising Gen Zers not to repeat their mistakes.

Though the return of the 2000s hasn’t always been received favourably, with some dismissing the live action remakes of old classics, others have welcomed a resurgence of something familiar in such uncertain times. Interestingly, though fashion trends are often cyclical, what we’re seeing is different aspects of 2000s fashion and music being thrown together with current and emerging trends. As new artists get inspired by old ones, it’s fair to say that we should prepare to hear many more remixes of old tracks and hits on platforms like TikTok. And unless we have new ideas for movies and TV series, the reimagination of classics will be here to stay.