The return of Y2K fashion is a style resurgence like no other. While fashion from each decade is distinctive, the early 2000s signaled a break away from the sleek silhouettes and minimalism of the 1990s. With the introduction of reality television and interest in celebrity culture at an all-time high, style became bigger, bolder, and more about cult appeal than ever before. At the turn of the millennium, fashion welcomed a wave of unique designs that shook up the industry and helped define an entire decade in pop culture.
There is no shortage of memorable Y2K designs. From denim overload and itty bitty belt skirts to butterfly motifs and velour tracksuits, the early 2000s witnessed some truly unique fashion trends. But handbags, in particular, became the obsession of choice for style aficionados of the time. No decade is associated with the term ‘It’ bag more than the 2000s. And popular handbags from the time have been instrumental in leading revival trends in the present day. Here is a definitive ranking of the best Y2K bags popping up in fashion this decade.
1. Louis Vuitton Multicolore Monogram
Likely the most iconic (and definitely the most colorful) of Y2K revival designs, Louis Vuitton’s Multicolore Monogram bags hold a special place in the handbag hall of fame. Launched for Spring/Summer 2003 in collaboration with renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, the Multicolore Monogram line’s striking rainbow-hued print was a new and innovative take on the heritage brand’s world-famous moniker.
Murakami took the most famous print from one of high fashion’s most respected labels and turned it on its head. His iteration of the age-old design expressed the brand’s desire to shake up its image. The result? Louis Vuitton was imbued with a fresh lease of life for the new millennium, one which went hand in hand with the excess and almost cartoonish aesthetic of fashion at the time. The Louis Vuitton Multicolore Monogram has always been more than a print. It signaled a new direction for fashion.
The hardware-heavy Multicolore Monogram Speedy was a particular favorite of Paris Hilton and other celebs in the early aughts. However, the rainbow-colored logo Speedy HL (also known as the Speedy Nano) is the most covetable amongst today’s fashion set. A combination of the micro bag trend and Louis Vuitton’s famous multi-hued print, this design ranks amongst the most searched for products on luxury resale sites and routinely sells for many times its original retail price. The Multicolore Monogram version of the Pochette Accessoires is another style from the collaboration that handbag aficionados are clambering to get their hands on.
The collection’s lasting fame and iconic standing within fashion is no surprise. Multicolore Monogram is now as synonymous with playful and vibrant Y2K style as the classic monogram print is with Louis Vuitton itself.
2. Fendi Baguette
As Carrie Bradshaw once famously decreed – It’s not a bag … “it’s a Baguette.”
Fendi’s compact shoulder bag, which fits snugly under the arm, subsequently became the most lusted-after accessory in fashion. Designed in 1997 by Silvia Venturi Fendi, the flap shoulder design got its name thanks to its oblong shape akin to that of a baguette stick.
The design found worldwide fame in the late 1990s and early 2000s on the arm (or rather, tucked under the arm) of Sex and the City’s Bradshaw. In 2019, Fendi re-issued the Baguette to wild success, even using Sarah Jessica Parker, the actress who portrayed Bradshaw, in the campaign. The Fendi Baguette is now a mainstay in the house’s collections, with new materials and colorways added each season.
3. Balenciaga Motorcycle Bag
The original bag of cool girls, the Balenciaga Motorcycle became popular thanks to supermodel Kate Moss. She spotted the studded, distressed leather style after a Balenciaga show and requested one from the house’s creative director at the time, Nicolas Ghèsquiere. Moss’ cool-without-trying persona suited the Balenciaga Motorcycle bag’s unstructured silhouette and leather overload perfectly. A match made in handbag heaven, you could say.
Fast forward to modern times, and the Balenciaga Motorcycle is perhaps the most relevant bag in fashion today out of all the styles on this list. Not least because the Balenciaga Motorcycle is wildly popular, but the unbranded yet instantly recognizable design has been used as a springboard for the label’s most covetable new styles. Take the Le Cagole, new for Fall/Winter 2021. Needless to say, Balenciaga’s success in repackaging design features first released over two decades ago is impressive.
4. Dior Saddle Bag
The famous Dior Saddle bag became THE must-have accessory of Instagram influencers in the late 2010s. Originally debuting on John Galliano’s Spring/Summer 2000 runway for Dior, the uniquely shaped design quickly became the ‘It’ bag for ‘It’ girls of the time. Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri re-issued the Saddle bag in 2018, and the cowboy-inspired design is a firm fan favorite of Dior devotees from several generations.
The Dior Saddle bag has since spouted a slew of variations, including belt pouch, mini, and even micro iterations.
5. Prada Nylon Bags
Fashion brands’ eagerness to showcase their innovative use of new materials is nothing out of the ordinary. But when Prada started using nylon to craft its handbags in the 1980s, the move was unprecedented and shocked fashion critics and shoppers alike. Prada’s cohort of nylon bags became retro cult favorites during the late 2010s, and the minimalistic styles continue to garner fans today.
Fusing high fashion with utilitarian design, nylon bags are now a staple Prada offering. Now, many of the label’s most iconic nylon designs are created using recycled nylon as part of the Prada Re-Nylon collection.