Y2KBags and the City: A Look at Instagram’s Most Nostalgic Fashion Account
by Gabriela Margarone
Photos by Jessica Shyy
When we imagine the early 2000s, we think of the fashion, paparazzi, and celebrities who took the fashion and social scene by storm. Today, we have unabridged access to all the old gossip columns and magazine spreads we want. The world is our oyster! But it’s even better, and more convenient, to have an account like @y2kbags pack up all the early 2000s deliciousness into bites we can savor throughout the day.
The self-named “Handbag Bible” Instagram account chronicles and educates individuals on all things Y2K bags and purses through paparazzi snaps from the era (think a disheveled Lindsay Lohan spotted with an Hermes Cyclamen Ostrich Birkin 30). The page has more than 13,000 followers, which has more than doubled from last year, and has been praised by “Vogue” for satisfying people’s handbag nostalgia.
I sat down with the anonymous and iconic Alejandro, 29, to discuss his account, tabloids, and all things Y2K.
U: When did your love for the early 2000s start?
“I mean, honestly, I've been obsessed with just all things pop culture and fashion since I was, I have to say, maybe 8, 9 years old. I was really fortunate to have to have two older cousins that understood me as a little gay boy.”
U: In your early days, where did you look for inspiration as a young boy?
“I would flip through magazines like ‘US Weekly,’ like all the raunchy magazines, or like ‘J-14.’ I can't even think of the names today! There were just so many. There were magazines because this is before social media, obviously, so I was like, on it. Perez Hilton would post a bunch of stuff too, because that was like, one of the first blogs that was very focused on photos of celebrities, and he wouldn't necessarily call out well, no one actually really called out what they were wearing unless it was that one segment, like ‘My look’ by Fashion Police. But they had who wore it better, and they would sometimes call (outfits) out and then obviously ‘Vogue’ magazine.”
“I think by 11 or 12 I was just like, this is what I want in my life, and I don't know how I'm going to get it, but I need to get it.”
Alejandro’s life looked much different before he went full swing into the Y2K lifestyle. He had somewhat of a “late” start when fully immersing himself into handbags.
“Just the concept of handbags was so unattainable to me in a sense where I personally never thought that I would carry a bag myself. My full time job was at Bank of America. That was my first job. I (also) worked at Crossroads; this is when I was 20. I worked at Crossroads as a hobby. So on my days off, I would work at Crossroads and we would get vintage Gucci bags, vintage Louis Vuitton bags, vintage Dior, and YSL. I look at the pricing and I'm like, ‘Wow, that was so cheap!’ It was so cheap. But I wasn't buying it. I wasn't buying bags just because, again, I never thought that I would be carrying handbags ever. I remember my first designer bag working at Crossroads was a Fendi Pequin backpack, and I was like, obsessed with it. It's really funny because that era of me is silly, but that was like my first bag. The first time I bought a handbag was a Balenciaga City bag, and that was in 2018.”
Now owning over 30 bags, Alejandro shows me his collection. I ask which bag is his most prized possession: “The Birkin, but it's not the best. It's not practical at all. It's honestly the most inconvenient bag that I own. But I just feel like that b*tch.”
U: Being in a place of influencer, as well as influenced, how do you stop yourself from buying bags you come across in your research?
“I think I'm at an age, and at a point in my life where I might like something and I'm like, ‘I don't need it.’ But I hate to say nothing really influences me anymore. If anything, I’m like, ‘Oh, that's cool.’ But I know my style and I know what I like, and I know that I want to keep things. But, I want to buy things! I don't like trendy sh*t. I really don't. Sometimes I may tap into a trend, but I know what I like.”
U: Have you ever noticed a trend where if you post a bag, it starts to gain popularity, or even sell out?
“People will tell me, ‘I bought this bag because of you,’ or ‘I pulled out this bag because of you,’ ‘I dig through my mom's closet because of you,’ ‘I forgot about this bag,’ ‘I'm going to buy this bag.’ The account itself definitely has influence, and I hate to make it about me. Yes, I run the account, but I think that I don't know, it's pretty weird because I really want to consider it like a community — this is where the influence comes back in. Sometimes I'll see a bag, or sometimes I'll see someone carry a bag, or sometimes I'm at work and I see a bag and I'll be like, ‘Oh, my God, wait, let me post this,’ or ‘let me find someone carrying this bag.’”
U: Why the early 2000s? What is so special about it?
“Fashion repeats itself, and that era of fashion is so relevant to today, yesterday and tomorrow, where everything that those girls wore, whether it was the shirt the pants, the shoes, the bag, the belt, the sunglasses, the hat...there are pieces that are actually going to live forever and ever and ever. And bags are so universal that a bag can't necessarily be outdated. A bag can be so relevant. It's insane. That's why I hate fashion today, where they try to push out so much new product, but there's so much old product out there. Any silhouette, you can get it from the early 2000s. Any designer brand, you could buy that bag for 10% of what bags retail today. I love to say that bags, like, designer luxury brands today want to make product unattainable to the working class, which is bullsh*t.”
This brings up a very important point of conversation surrounding the industry, which is the inaccessibility of designer pieces to the working class. Alejandro also uses his platform to update on fashion news, such as when Chanel raised their prices (again) on their classic double flap handbags. Alejandro is like a tabloid himself, reporting on fashion news of today, but style and handbags of yesterday. It’s a way to tie the then and the now together.
As for showing himself, Alejandro likes to keep his anonymity.
“I just don't want to be so attached to the account. It's about the bags, with fashion involved. But obviously sometimes I will post on stories about the looks and the runway shows or my outfit of the day.”
Alejandro also notes that a majority of his following is millennials, which he credits to the nostalgia factor of his account. His second most popular being Gen Z, which has a reputation recently for loving all things early 2000s. His posts can also be teaching moments for those who have never come across the early 2000s, or who simply want to go into more of a deep dive about the topic and look for inspiration on how to incorporate certain fashion trends from the time into their own wardrobe.
Working in the secondary market himself, Alejandro has seen it all. He gains inspiration from this, as well as “thousands” of photos he has saved on his phone.
“I actually have a folder with over 2,000 photos of bags. And that doesn't include the pictures that are not added. I think in my phone I probably have about close to 10,000 photos.”
U: Lastly, what’s your dream bag?
“My dream bag would definitely be an [Hermes] Kelly Pochette in a shiny alligator. I would say in a jewel tone. So maybe like green, yellow, orange or red.” And the cost? A cool $44,000.
@y2kbags is a nostalgic escape from the real world. Put on Britney Spears, bring out the Juicy tracksuit, and feast your eyes on some early 2000s treats, only at @y2kbags.