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Like it or not, low-rise jeans appear to be making a comeback

"It just brings back such a bad taste in your mouth from before the body positivity movement made such strides," said fashion blogger Renata D'Agrella.
Britney Spears rehearses for the \"NFL Live Kickoff from the National Mall\" on Sept. 3, 2003, in Washington.
Britney Spears rehearses for the "NFL Live Kickoff From the National Mall" on Sept. 3, 2003, in Washington.Kevin Mazur / WireImage for NFL

With more than 63 million people fully vaccinated in the United States and Covid-19 restrictions easing in several states, many are hoping this summer could start to feel somewhat normal.

That means, as people leave their homes and ditch the sweatpants, summer fashion trends are starting to crystalize. To the horror of millennials everywhere, this year that may include the return of low-rise jeans.

The return of low-rise jeans was noted Tuesday by Vox's Rebecca Jennings in an article for "The Goods," spurring a polarizing social media response from those eager to get back to their early 2000s low-rise jeans and those who decried the return of a garment often associated with thinness and body-shaming.

"I think a lot of my hesitation around the low-rise trend along with a lot of other zillennials, millennials is it kind of brings back some memories of the fatphobia of the early 2000s and Y2K era," said Renata D'Agrella, 24, of New York City, who creates content on TikTok about fashion advice and trends.

Y2K fashion, clothing that evokes the aesthetic of the early 2000s, is currently the hottest genre of vintage clothing among young people, Jennings wrote. And because fashion is cyclical, young people are beginning to move on from the '90s fashion trends inspired by shows like "Friends" and onto the 2000s.

"Obviously, like, the high-waisted mom jeans are '80s, '90s, and then what follows that is the 2000s, so as our generation gets older, we're still pulling back from years past," said Siena Filippi, 22, of Boston, who sells upcycled and salvaged clothing at her online shop, ri.reclaimed. "So now that all of Gen Z is old enough, the 2000s is kind of the next decade we haven't touched upon. It's kind of the next one in line."

On shopping sites like Depop and Poshmark and corners of the internet inhabited by Gen Z, like TikTok, Y2K fashion is having a moment, Filippi said.

"You're seeing that with the baby tees, the cropped tees and more kid-like patterns. I think more people are accepting of that and that doesn't scare them as much, but the thing that scares them are the low-rise jeans," Filippi said.

The return of low-rise jeans isn't necessarily a revelation of 2021 — some have been sounding the alarm on low-rise jeans coming back into fashion since 2017. Repeller published an article that year titled "I'm Sorry, But Low-Rise Jeans Might Be Coming Back." The following year, The Cut published an article titled "The Countdown to Low-Rise Jeans Has Begun."


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Since then, the debate as to whether low-rise jeans were making a comeback — and if they even should — has raged.

"It just brings back such a bad taste in your mouth from before the body positivity movement made such strides," D'Agrella said.

Generally, Gen Z tends to be more body positive and doesn't see low-rise jeans as something exclusive to thin bodies, D'Agrella said. However, she added that she has yet to see a diverse range of body types wearing and reclaiming low-rise jeans on TikTok at this point. On TikTok, the hashtag #lowrisejeans has been viewed more than 34 million times.

Filippi said Gen Z's infatuation with low-rise jeans is in part because her generation is enamored with images of the 2000s, of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and the styles and the fashion that they were too young to experience. She added that Gen Z will only discover if they like low-rise jeans by experiencing the trend themselves.

"You know what they say, you kind of got to learn the hard way," she said.