A woman with brown curly hair and wearing slim cat-eye sunglasses standing in front of a garage door

Rediscover the top 5 Y2K sunglasses trends

13 May 2024

Y2K is an abbreviation of the year 2000. It was first used in reference to the millennium computer bug which raised concerns at the turn of the century. People believed that a computer error would lead to flaws in the configuration and storage of calendar data. In the fashion world, it is a sentimental term that refers to the late 1990s and early 2000s. The start of the millennium created a lot of anticipation and excitement for the future and this was clearly reflected in the trends of the time.

Two decades on and Y2K styles are back on the fashion scene as nostalgic Gen Z fashion icons and celebrities share their favourite classic styles on TikTok and Instagram. These innovative designs have recently resurfaced along with many other retro classics. Trendsetters today simply can’t get enough of throwback fashion.

Whilst still incorporating the simplistic styles of the 90s, Y2K was an era recognised for its futuristic fashion and statement designs. As for Y2K sunglasses, they were often bold in colour, distinctive in shape and embellished with modern metallic accents. Embrace a sense of nostalgia and take yourself back to the year 2000 — when low-wasted jeans, denim mini-skirts, space-age accessories and chunky trainers were all the rage!

Close-up of an Asian woman wearing very small cat-eye sunglasses

Future-forward minimalism

Rimless sunglasses were highly popular in the early 2000s. Despite their subtlety, they tended to come in a variety of fun and eye-catching shapes. Inspired by the futuristic cyberpunk fashion made iconic by The Matrix franchise, people sought sleek and ultra-modern fashion designs. It was a time to embrace minimalism and rimless sunglasses were the perfect way to add an understated yet contemporary edge to your wardrobe.

Sporty street styles

A staple of Y2K trends, sporty-chic fashion became popular amongst fashionistas who sought style, comfort and convenience on the go. Following a huge fitness boom in the 1970s and 80s, sportswear had evolved and had become ultra-trendy. By the 1990s, the trend really took off as celebrities like Princess Diana famously wore this style whilst out and about. Big designer brands like Tommy Hilfiger began to introduce a whole new sporty range of street wear.

Before long, the style referred to as athleisure wear – coined from the words ‘athletic’ and ‘leisure’ – began to dominate the fashion scene as people sought casual clothing that would function for both exercise and everyday use. At this time, some of the biggest names in fashion were competing to produce the most comfortable luxury tracksuits, leggings and hoodies.

Much like the clothing at the time, sporty 2000s sunglasses were a massive trend at the beginning of the millennium. This is likely because they struck the perfect balance between style and convenience. Celebrities of the time were wearing oversized shield sunglasses and classic athletic styles. Frames made of acetate with oval lenses were particularly popular and were not only extremely trendy, but also ergonomically designed to sit snuggly on your face and provide full protection from the sun.

A similing man and woman pose for the camera outdoors while hugging their dog, a husky. Both the couple and the dog are wearing sporty sunglasses.

In 2021, this trend peaked again after the pandemic. It was a time when people’s lifestyles changed dramatically as many started to exercise and work remotely from home, which meant they sought comfortable yet fashionable clothing they could wear anywhere. Now in 2024, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Bella Hadid, Justin and Hailey Bieber are rocking this classic off-duty look.

To create the ultimate 00s vibe, wear your Y2K sports sunglasses with a pair of low-rise denim jeans and a tank top for a fresh street-style look. Or, you can match a sporty pair of designers with a trendy velour tracksuit for an on-the-go VIP look.

Ultra-tiny sunglasses

Small sunglasses were a big hit in the late 90s and then again in the 2000s with the rise of the Bayonetta trend. Slim rectangular and oval sunglasses were a must-have addition to your wardrobe in the millennium. Celebrities like Britney Spears, Anastacia, Megan Fox, Eminem and Justin Timberlake all famously wore this style. Narrow cat-eye sunglasses were also a very prominent Y2K trend for women. Pair your slim 2000s sunglasses with a bandana for the perfect throwback look! Or better still, add some colour to them with our Transitions® Signature® GEN8™ lenses which come in seven trendy style colours! Coloured sunglasses lenses were a huge Y2K sunglasses trend and will create the ultimate retro vibe. Besides which, with the rise of the dopamine-dressing trend, it might also be a great way to boost your mood!

Oversized bug-eye sunglasses

It wasn’t just tiny sunglasses that were big! Large, bold shades also became very popular in the 2000s and a lot of famous stars were wearing them. Of course, this wasn’t the first time this trend emerged, in fact, it rose to fame in the 1960s thanks to glamorous celebrities like Jackie O and Audrey Hepburn. In the 90s, Grunge musicians such as Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain made them iconic again.

By the 2000s, everyone was wearing chunky, large round and oval sunglasses which were soon affectionately nicknamed ‘bug-eye sunglasses’ because of their unusual shape. For women, black Y2K sunglasses with dazzling diamante details were the ultimate fashion accessory. Very often celebrities like Paris Hilton were captured peeking from their favourite pair of black oversized sunglasses. Bright and bold colours were also really trendy at this time.

Fun and quirky shapes

Y2K fashion was all about looking to the future. Designers were being innovative and experimenting with distinctive sunglasses shapes and patterns. Lenses shaped like hearts, cat ears, flowers, triangles and stars as well as bold leopard prints were everywhere! Let’s be honest, it was probably Elton John that made them iconic in the first place.

This trend has recently emerged again and seems to be popular amongst world-famous stars and music icons. Queen of Pop Taylor Swift is a big fan of quirky sunglasses and she often shows them off in her music videos. Harry Styles is also well-known for his flamboyant fashion sense which often includes a funky pair of sunglasses. This has inspired frequent festival-goers who love to show off their fun, bohemian fashion sense! We have picked some of our most playful Y2K-inspired sunglasses styles.