The 7 API-Owned Brands Behind the Next Wave of Y2K Style


(Image credit: @barbieferreira; Sandy Liang/Launchmetrics Spotlight; @livia)

Whether the influence of the early 2000s is something you find exciting to tap into or you feel personally victimized by its comeback since you lived through it (and likely wore many of the returning trends), there's no denying that the era has seen a massive surge in interest in the past few years. Its influence stretches far and wide, with so many of the trends bubbling up today having originated from the era.

I'm sorry, or you're welcome, but Y2K style isn't going anywhere just yet—it's simply evolving. In 2023, the aesthetic isn't the same as it was at the start of its hotly debated return to style. Instead, it's grown up from its shockingly risqué and controversial origins into something more mature and stylized. Yes, there are still plenty of low-rise waistlines and bright pops of color, but instead of the flashy and in-your-face looks that usually come to mind when someone brings up the redux, things are getting more muted and romantic and a touch edgier. I like to think of Y2K style today as the intersection of niche internet aesthetics like coquette style and dark romance. If you're wondering what that looks like, I'll explain with the seven labels below that are leading the next wave.

Ahead, meet an exciting group of emerging Asian-owned brands that are winning over everyone from Gen Zers on TikTok to celebrities in Hollywood for their ultra-pretty pieces.


(Image credit: @aishafarida; @vivian.yrl; @sandyliang; Sandy Liang/Launchmetrics Spotlight)

When I think of what the cool downtown crowd is wearing now, Sandy Liang immediately comes to mind. Filled with super-sweet and charming elements like bows, rosettes, and soft ballet pink, it's hard not to fall in love with Liang's pretty and nostalgia-tinged world.

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Designer LuQi Yu's vision of nostalgic silhouettes redone in a modern way has been an instant internet success, winning over everyone from niche fashion crowds on TikTok to A-listers like Dua Lipa and Olivia Rodrigo, who she counts as loyal brand fans. Yu masterfully toes the line between fantasy and reality with signature pieces like the cutout lace tights and anime-printed baby tees that invite shoppers into her rich and imaginative world.

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Kim Shui's designs are, in a word, hot. Her line of throwback staples like crisscross halter tops, shrunken leather moto jackets, and, of course, her famous butterfly top are what I imagine Paris Hilton's early 2000s wardrobe would have been made up of had the collection existed then. Shui's designs have evolved alongside the Y2K comeback and in recent seasons have gone from an emphasis on eye-widening cutouts to sheer lace pieces that, despite being no less sultry, feel much more mature.

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It would be near impossible to avoid the Vietnam-based internet sensation Fancì Club at this point. By now, you've likely seen the signature soft ruffles, sheer fabrics, and rosette-adorned silhouettes flooding your social media feeds on what feels like every single influencer, well, ever and inevitably copied by fast-fashion brands all over. The hype speaks to the novelty of what designer Duy Tran has created. 

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(Image credit: @kyliejenner; @yuhanwangyuhan; @alexachung; Getty Images; @ageorama)

London-based Chinese designer Yuhan Wang explores Asia's traditional standards of feminine beauty and their connection to Western culture. Through exaggerated silhouettes, embroidered etchings, bright colors, and prints reminiscent of Chinese landscape paintings, the label's offerings embody romantic nostalgia and bring the spirit of Chinese tradition into daring, contemporary pieces like eye-grabbing sheer lace, deconstruction, and lots of asymmetry.

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"Bonbon" means candy in French, and "whims" is short for whimsical, and those are exactly the vibes these Y2K-inspired pieces will give. From candy-colored rings to bottle-cap earrings, there are plenty of fun options in this brand's bright and whimsical offering.

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Designers Dylan Cao and Jin Kay draw inspiration for their modern workwear label Commission from the Asian working mothers of the '80s and '90s, with the designers taking cues from the outfits they saw their own mothers wearing to work while growing up. The young designers—first-generation immigrants with degrees from Parsons School of Design—came together to carve out a space for the visual representation of East Asian culture (one which is noticeably lacking) within the fashion industry. 

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Next: Welcome to the State of Style: 7 Major Shifts That Are Defining the Early 2020s

Senior Editor

Anna is an editor on the fashion team at Who What Wear and has been at the company for over five years, having begun her career in the Los Angeles office before relocating to New York, where she's currently based. Having always been passionate about pursuing a career in fashion, she built up her experience interning at the likes of Michael Kors, A.L.C., and College Fashionista before joining the team as a post-graduate assistant editor. Anna has penned a number of interviews with Who What Wear's cover stars over the years, including A-listers Megan Fox, Issa Rae, and Emma Chamberlain. She's earned a reputation for scouting new and emerging brands from across the globe and championing them to our audience of millions. While fashion is her main wheelhouse, Anna led the launch of WWW Travels last year, a new lifestyle vertical that highlights all things travel through a fashion-person lens. She is passionate about shopping vintage, whether it be at a favorite local outpost or an on-the-road discovery, and has amassed a wardrobe full of unique finds. When she's not writing, you can find her shooting street imagery on her film camera, attempting to learn a fourth or fifth language, or planning her next trip across the globe.