Early Aughts Denim — The Trend That’s About To Take Over Your Closets

Throwing it back to the 2000s.

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Michelle Li wearing blue jeans with white flowers.
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The 2000s has a tight grip on fashion right now, and it’s not letting go anytime soon. The last few years have reignited everyone’s obsession with Y2K jewelry — such as chunky baubles and chain belts — and saw the return of the miniskirt. (Thank you, Miu Miu.) This fondness for ’00s style has also infiltrated the denim world. Brands like Levi’s and consignment marketplaces such as The RealReal and Poshmark, in particular, have noticed that its users are searching for low-rise and flare jeans to purchase — a signal that early aughts denim is a rising trend for 2022.

You’ll notice one of the breakout styles in this category is the aforementioned low-rise bottoms. Back in January 2022, Julia Fox tapped into this look when she attended the Kenzo Men’s Fall/Winter 2022 show. There, she wore a denim-on-denim outfit, which featured a cropped jacket and a pair of baggy, ultra low-rise jeans. (The bottoms were from Schiaparelli’s Artistic Director Daniel Roseberry’s personal wardrobe.) Her designer pants declared to the fashion world that the hip-baring style was officially back.

“[At Poshmark], we saw purchases increase with ‘low rise’ mentioned in listing titles and descriptions for both mens and womenswear, when comparing our [year over year] sales in February 2021 to February 2022,” says Steven Tristan Young, Poshmark’s chief marketing officer, in an email.

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In addition, the popular TV series Euphoria, which brought back a host of early aughts-defining trends in both fashion and beauty, featured the return of low-rise pants. In Season 2, episode 6, Maddy (played by Alexa Demie) paired a black crochet lace-up top with a pair of True Religion Tony Low-Rise Bootleg jeans. (As any millennial knows, True Religion bottoms are the ultimate throwback ‘00s piece.)

Aside from the low-rise style, other designs from this nostalgic era are making a comeback too. “Since 2019, we’ve seen an increase in demand for early aughts jeans [on The RealReal]. It could be anything, from embroidery to contrast stitching, especially amongst brands with vintage designer products, like Dior and Roberto Cavalli,” Noelle Sciacca, The RealReal’s women’s editorial lead, tells TZR.

Ahead, see the types of 2000s denim styles that are currently trending. If you feel inspired by the outfits, shop similar pieces to recreate the ensembles.

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Thong-Style Jeans

In the 2000s, pop stars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera wore low-rise bottoms with exposed G-string undergarments to everything from concerts to red carpet events. Now the look is back, albeit with a few tweaks. For example, Mugler’s Spring/Summer 2021 runway show sent models like Bella Hadid down the runway in trompe l’oeil jeans that featured strategically placed Lycra panels to create the illusion of a denim thong. The built-in undergarment look even works with more trouser-like pants, as evidenced by labels like Subsurface and Miaou.

Ultra Low-Rise Jeans

“Early aughts denim brings back memories of scandalously low-rise and bootcut [jeans] with hems so long that they dragged beneath our platform sandals,” says Jill Guenza, global vice president of women’s design at Levi Strauss & Co. “Our fans love [Levi’s] latest fits inspired by the late ‘90s and early ‘00s styles. You can say this is driven by a strong sense of nostalgia and a love of irony coming out of the pandemic.”

Baggy Jeans

Skinny jeans are still out, so trendsetters like Aimee Song have instead embraced baggy denim. This early aughts style is not only comfortable thanks to the loose-fit around the ankles, but it is also versatile to style. You can pair it with crop tops, cutout bodysuits, a plain tee, a cardigan set — the list goes on.

Flare Jeans

In the ‘70s, flared jeans were everyone’s go-to for discos as the bottoms allowed them to move more freely on the dance floor. Flash forward to the late ‘90s/early 2000s and pop stars like Jennifer Lopez and Victoria Beckham paired their bellbottoms with crop tops. Now in 2022, the duo continues to show their support for this classic silhouette by styling it with blazers and oversized sweaters.

Embellished Jeans

If you have a pair of old bedazzled jeans in the back of your closet, it’s time to pull them back out. Brands like Area and Golden Goose offer bottoms with embellishments such as pearls, crystals, sequins, rhinestones, and embroidery. And, fashion enthusiasts have embraced these details with vigor. “We all came out of this practical comfort dressing phase over the last two years. Now emerging back into the world, people want to have fun with fashion, and I think early aughts denim is that,” says Sciacca.

Bootcut Jeans

The popular ‘90s bootcut jeans will forever be a wardrobe staple, especially with brands like Levi’s that put in the resources to update the style for its customers in 2022. “Our Low Pitch Boot and Straight jeans capture the spirit of authentically worn-in denim, as it differentiates from the highly textured and hyper-visual finishes of the early 2000s,” Guenza shares. “The rises are perfectly tilted, similar to the iconic styles of the ‘00s, while the fabrics have benefited from major upgrades due to advances in denim technology over the last two decades.”

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