Can the Y2K Resurgence Reboot Millennial Wallets?

millennial woman in denim

Millennials are having a tough time making ends meet.

Enduring the economic recession that trailed the 2008 crash was like navigating a rocky sea for millennials. They weathered the storms of job insecurity and low wages, only to be hit by the tidal wave of consequences from the COVID pandemic.

The inflationary spiral has further diminished their purchasing power. Despite being pioneers of the digital era and enjoying access to higher education, millennials have been handed an economic challenge that’s no walk in the park.

According to PYMNTS Intelligence research conducted in partnership with LendingClub, as of September 2023, 62% of millennials in the United States are living from paycheck to paycheck. And almost 25% face regular challenges in meeting their financial obligations, a percentage that has remained consistent over the past year, despite the easing of inflation.

Learn more: Millennials Have the Most Difficulties Making Ends Meet

However, as the Y2K fashion trend makes a comeback, characterized by logos, vibrant colors, low-rise waistlines and denim-centric fabrics, millennials may discover a reprieve from the temptation to overhaul their wardrobes. Many of the currently trending items can ideally be unearthed at the back of their closets.

From True Religion jeans and the return of the UGG boot that has become a core fall staple for many to Juicy Couture tracksuits and Ed Hardy trucker hats, these brands and styles from the 1990s and early 2000s played a defining role in shaping the millennial fashion identity.

In a recent PYMNTS interview, Jim Kushner, executive vice president of North America Wholesale Sales at True Religion, said the company garnered $260 million in sales last year. True Religion is setting its sights on achieving $500 million in revenue by 2027, largely attributing its success to the increasing consumer appetite for nostalgic products.

“We’ve built a strong following, and we’re committed to further expanding on that foundation,” said Kushner.

“I think now we’re really appealing to a broader base of consumers based on our current position while maintaining the same level of quality and core ideas, positioning ourselves as an elevated, more premium brand.”

Kushner highlighted the company’s focus on expanding its wholesale opportunities with a more strategic approach. A recent collaboration with Urban Outfitters exemplifies this strategy, aiming not only to reach a broader consumer base but also to target consumers at a different price point.

Read more: How True Religion Is Stitching Together Its Comeback

Meanwile UGG, despite the Y2K trend, has established itself as a fundamental favorite for numerous consumers, particularly during the fall and winter. Consumers can be found on TikTok unboxing the newest style for the season, and the brand has kicked off UGG rewards.

In the most recent earnings report from its parent company, Deckers, UGG recorded sales of $610.5 million for the second quarter, marking a significant 28.1% year-over-year increase and constituting almost 56% of Deckers’ overall sales.

Simultaneously, on the resale platform StockX, UGG is positioned to establish a new all-time trading record in 2023. It’s tapping into the fastest-growing beat in StockX’s shoes category, with searches for “UGG Tasman” and “UGG Tazz” soaring by 2,340% and 1,340%, respectively, in the past year.

The brand has been consistently challenging to keep in stock, leading many to turn to knockoffs or considering them to rationalize the purchase when it becomes available.

See also: No Shame in the Game: Why Consumers Are Proudly Flaunting Dupes

Then there’s Baby Phat. Founded in 1999 by American model-turned-designer and entrepreneur Kimora Lee Simmons, the brand initially focused on bedazzled logos on baby tees.

“Me and my friends would buy kid’s T-shirts and wear them, so I started making them for Baby Phat,” Simmons told Vogue. In the 2000s, the brand gained momentum, with figure-hugging jeans and fur-hood bombers from Baby Phat solidifying its presence on the fashion scene.

Despite ceasing operations in 2010, primarily due to the departure of Simmons and a shift away from the flashy fashion of the 2000s, the designer repurchased the brand in 2019 from an anonymous seller.

While Baby Phat has collaborated with retailers like Forever 21 and Macy’s on capsule collections, Simmons has now introduced the label’s first fall collection, available on its standalone eCommerce website.

Keeping all of this in mind, as nostalgic brands make a fashionable comeback, millennials might easily “dig” into the past of their closets to stay in vogue. Unless, of course, they’ve already resold those treasures on platforms like Poshmark and thredUP. But that’s a style saga for another day.