The Age Of Internet Nostalgia: Why Are We Obsessed With A Past That Never Existed?


Welcome to the age of Internet Notalgia, where the rise of Y2K-inspired style and early-age Internet aesthetics are resurfacing. Whether you’re old enough to remember thinking the world was ending in 2000 or never lived through it and love the look, you too are a part of the cultural zeitgeist. 

Hyper-femininity is back and the girls are wearing embroidered denim, pink mini skirts (low rise of course), graphic tees, and knee-high boots. Details matter, it is the season of ribbons, bows, and clips. Early internet aesthetics is also back with creators using sparkly designs, fast animation, Time New Roman font, and chat boxes. Internet Nostalgia is all about ‘remembering’ the nineties and the noughties, through a collective memory that reimagines and idealizes the past.

Heaven by Marc Jacob x Blumarine is the newest and hottest hardcore Y2K-esque launch. Fun, flirty, and fresh, the 11-piece collection strikes the perfect balance between glam and material. 

Heaven is known for including major celebrities —Doja Cat, Bella Hadid, and Dua Lipa— and niche subversive subcultural icons— Ethel Cain, Steve Lacy, and Michèle Lamy— in campaigns which generates a frenzy of social media reposting, as soon as a new collection drops. Each drop is a vision showcasing the current trend of the time. The success of Heaven is rooted in the curation of imagined experiences and has become paramount to Gen Z culture, by tapping into a collective longing and nostalgia for youth and childhood. 

Internet nostalgia is driven by a distorted vision of the past because we remember the time period through mediums such as music videos, films, advertisements, and paparazzi images. Since these are not historical items,  the result is interpreting the past through someone else’s reference, allowing trends to be reimaged over time. 

Petra Collins shot the campaign imagery of Heaven by Marc Jacob x Blumarine school, which gives the sensation of early ‘00 high school channeling Mean Girls On Wednesday, We Wear Pink, with a modern-day twist.

The Y2K inspired resurgence is influencing more than just fashion, as there has also been an emergence of the early aesthetic of the internet. GeoCities was a popular channel to make websites between 1994-1999. With pixel art, moving gifts, broken links, sparkles, and animations, these websites act in stark contrast to Web 2.0 websites. 

Cameron’s World has become a digital archive for GeoCities’ website since the company shut down in 2009. There were over 38 million websites when it closed, and Cameron’s World has been preserving the personalized sites of the past. 

Cameron’s World states how “In an age where we interact primarily with branded and marketed web content, Cameron’s World is a tribute to the lost days of unrefined self-expression on the Internet. This project recalls the visual aesthetics from an era when it was expected that personal spaces would always be under construction.”

The rise of Web 2 has led to homogenization on the Internet, where many brands have similar sites which are simple, clean, and functional. Reverting to fun branding online is a protest against the structure of the internet and allows for boundless creativity.

Samantha Hince Trend forecaster told Fashionista that “Internet Nostalgia is trashy, in the most fantastic, deliberate way…It’s sticking your finger up to what society thinks you should be doing, saying and wearing all at once. Loud, sexy and provocative, Internet Nostalgia is anything but subtle. It’s not meant to please everyone.”

Fashion brands that are merging internet aesthetics and Y2K styles trying to be taken less seriously and tap into the carefree desire of Gen Z. The nostalgia is rooted in the desire to escape the mundane homogeneous nature of the web. While longing for a past where this seemed more achievable. The brand Praying uses Cameron’s World-inspired website and has pink graphic tees, ballet pumps, and shoulder bags. The slogans on the product can be worn ironically or literally and the fun behind the brand is that it doesn’t matter.

Here at GLITCH, we think that Y2K inspired styles and early-age internet aesthetics are only going to rise. The monotonous nature of online websites is making individuals want to express themselves freely with no constraints and judgment. It’s a rebellion sparked by the desire for freedom and authenticity.  While the Y2K clothing is not an accurate reflection of the time, it reflects a yearning for nostalgia, youth, and fun. 

Why Are We Obsessed With A Past That Never Existed? Maybe it has nothing to do with the past, but a longing for a new future.

Written by Amber Weir from GLITCH Magazine


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