Retro Giants COW Nottingham Chat Y2K Looks, Cylical Fashion and the Importance of Sustainability

Photos: Chloe Allen
Interview: Addie Kenongbon
Monday 22 August 2022
reading time: min, words

Looking around today, you may have spotted that many Y2K trends are going through a bit of a resurgence and, while it only seems like yesterday when these styles were first introduced, many of them have found their way back into the limelight. We catch up with Brooke Skelton, supervisor of retro giants COW Nottingham, to find out more about the cyclical nature of fashion and why, twenty years later, these trends are back and here to stay…


Why do you think Y2K fashion is having such a moment right now?
To be honest, I think social media - and especially TikTok - has a massive part to play in that. I studied fashion at university and so I’m familiar with the pattern of a resurgence of trends every ten years, and this is in-keeping with that. I think it also helps that a lot of the famous icons from the Y2K era are still around now, so I think people also find that quite inspiring.

I grew up during the noughties and I just remember how so much of the fashion from that era was slated. Although I’m sometimes left wondering how some of those styles have come back, I think it’s pretty cool to see how people are pulling those looks off today.

What sorts of Y2K pieces do you currently stock at COW?
We’ve currently got a lot of strappy tops and velvet crop tops in. Some have lace detailing on so they’re a little bit revealing. We do also have our resident seamstress upstairs and she reworks many of our Ralph Lauren shirts into high-neck halter tie tops, which were very popular in the early noughties too. We have a lot of vest tops and varsity tops in the menswear section as well. Sportswear was pretty big back then, so we have lots of retro sportswear from Carhart, lots of baggy low-waist pieces, as well as long cargo shorts and heaps of cool patterned button-up shirts. We stock authentic Y2K pieces, so people like to come and visit us to find those one-off items that make them a little different but still follow the trend.

Are there any new ways you’re seeing people wear these Y2K trends, or new ways you’re styling them for a different take on them?
We’ll often see that with the strappy tops that we’ve got in, for example - especially the velvet and lace ones - people have been putting them underneath oversized shirts and patterned skirts to make really cool fresh looks that are a little different. And because we get such a mixture of customers of all ages too, it’s great to see the different ways they style their pieces. We get your proper vintage hunters who have a very eclectic style, but then they buy the Y2K pieces and wear them in a completely different way too. 


Are you seeing more younger people,who maybe weren’t around when Y2K fashion was a thing, shopping the trend now, or is it more millennials and older shoppers that were here during the first wave of the trend?
It’s a bit of a mix. We’re getting lots of millennials, but a lot of younger people are also really drawn to the trends too. You do get millennials buying the odd pieces, but they style it differently. They’re still gravitating towards those looks but putting a different spin on it probably because they’re infusing it with their own style, which has no doubt changed a lot since they were first wearing the trends twenty years ago, when they first came out.

What is it that you think makes Y2K fashion so appealing?
When you look at pictures from the noughties, many of the styles worn feature quite exposed looks, as I feel they arrived at a time when people were really coming into their sexuality. So you have your low-waisted jeans with midriff on show and exposed shoulders. And I think, for some people, that might be what’s appealing, getting a chance to capture that vibe.

When you look at pictures from the noughties, many of the styles worn feature quite exposed looks, as I feel they arrived at a time when people were really coming into their sexuality

COW arrived in Nottingham nine years ago, so has no doubt seen its fair share of trends come and go, but given the short lifespan of many trends, how do you keep up but still stay sustainable?
Our seamstress helps us recycle a lot of our clothes. So, for example, we had a bunch of skirts that were out on the shopfloor for quite a while, and she’s been reworking them into fresh new pieces as we don’t want to get rid of them.

Although we do, of course, keep up with trends, not all of our pieces follow them. A lot of the things we sell are timeless, such as our vintage denim jackets and shirts. We do have a lot of unique pieces and we try to have a mixture of people working here of different sizes because we want to cater to everyone.

Any predictions for what the next big trend to watch will be?
I’ve been seeing a lot of futuristic styles with shinier materials which have been surprisingly popular, so I think that will be big. But I do think we’ve only just touched the surface with the sustainability of fashion, and this is a trend I think will only hopefully get even bigger, as more people start to realise the impact of fast fashion on the environment. That’s definitely going to be an even bigger topic over the next ten or twenty years.

If you’ve been inspired to jump on the Y2K bandwagon again or for the first time, visit COW Nottingham on George Street in Hockley or head over to their Instagram page 


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