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TikTok Fashion Trends Offer Unique Insight Into ‘Gen Z’ Mental Health

Truth be told, I always looked forward to the day when my daughter might want to wear some of my clothes. Maybe she’d want to borrow a party dress for prom or a special date night. What I didn’t expect is that my teenager would totally steal my style — well, my circa-2000 style. Evidently, I’m not the only mom who’s noticed this.

Gen Z kids are loading up on Y2K fashion (and not high fashion either). Butterfly hair clips, Juicy Couture, curtain bangs, and chunky highlights are just some of the old trends coming back with a vengeance.

The craze is likely technology-driven. Born between 1997 and the early 2010s, Gen Z kids were basically raised with smart phones — if not in hand, then at least close at hand. Technology is part of their daily life; and so is social media. With the speed of a scroll, decades of fun and fashion pass by, beckoning to them to try the fashion faux-pas’ of our pasts.

In much the same way that Millennials went cray-cray for 90’s nostalgia, their younger brethren are wild about Y2K. Health experts say this fondness for days gone by is nothing new. In defining itself, each generation borrows a little something from the past. I can vouch for that: my grunge style had a dash of 60s, and my college couture may have had a hint of over-the-top disco and glam.

What I find maybe most interesting though, is which fashion finds the kids settle on. Seriously, I was recently forced under threat of a tantrum to hit “buy now” on Amazon for a new Bedazzler. Why? Who knows. High fashion is one thing, but things I look back on as fashion misses are now hits.

Experts muse that these simple artifacts harken back to a simpler time. Before harsh political discourse and polarizing discussions. Mild and mundane has seemingly captured the hearts and minds of Z’ers. A crop top and a trip to Claires has all the makings of a great afternoon.

If you want to dissect where our heads were at in the early 2000s, teens of that time were perhaps the first kids to come of age with their own credit cards. As expected, their first stop was the mall. Designer threads of the day were less Gucci and more Guess.

Not all of the trendiest throwback looks fit squarely in the 2000s, but the low-key sentiment ties them together. In defining their collective sensibility, fashionistas are fine-tuning their values as it relates to how they present themselves to the world. “Basic” is a word that’s thrown around as a humble-brag.

This also speaks to the power of influencers who hold great sway on social media platforms. People in the mental health community have noticed influencers ability to mobilize Gen Z trends with the ease of a 30-second video or a hash tag. The fashion trends are mostly harmless: oftentimes a TikTok time capsule that is constantly reinventing and recycling old trends.

Speaking of which, it wasn’t too many years ago when second-hand shops were the domain of the anti-establishment teen. Now thrifting has gone mainstream as a trendy treasure hunt. So even as my daughter loots my closet looking for cheap cast-offs, I’ll take it as a compliment.

What do you think?


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