How Aurora’s Electric Bubblegum Is Leading the Y2K Fashion Trend

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How Aurora’s Electric Bubblegum Is Leading the Y2K Fashion Trend

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In 2016, when Mariah Hodges was preparing for her capstone project at Georgia’s Savannah College of Art and Design, inspiration struck in the form of a water wiggler toy. The late ’90s relic—a squishy, glitter-filled stress toy—didn’t just lead to a good grade. It led to Electric Bubblegum. Founded in 2017 in Aurora, Hodges’ hometown, the fashion brand infuses its clothing and accessories with a liquid glitter recipe that took Hodges more than a year to perfect. The formula is long lasting, meaning her throwback designs—such as the Cosmic Harmony Purse, a collaboration with Los Angeles–based jeweler Trixy Starr—won’t dry out or mold like the ones from the decade of Lisa Frank.

Hodges’ timing couldn’t have been better: Gen Zers have resurfaced Y2K-era styles via TikTok, with outlets from Buzzfeed to NBC declaring ’90s fashion officially in with the kids. Hodges suspects there are many reasons for the chromatic comeback, from the style pendulum swinging toward brash pigments after years of beige tones to music festival fashion inspiring a broader resurgence of color and sparkle. “I’ve always pulled inspiration from that era, that was my childhood,” she says. “Seeing it become a trend has really boosted our popularity over the last couple of years, which has been exciting to see. People like feeling nostalgic.”

Today, her outlandish designs are a fan-favorite among crowds at shows like Denver Fashion Week and Fashion West. This month, Hodges and her team of four plan to release an alien-themed collection featuring glow-in-the-dark accessories and neon green fabrics. “I was inspired by those ’90s vending machines that would sell little plastic aliens,” she says. “The new line will be bright and retro and a lot of fun.”

Some of Hodges’ most popular creations include the liquid glitter raincoat, which comes in three eye-catching shades, and the puffer vest, the raincoat’s equally expressive counterpart that can be bought in bright green or atomic pink and purple. We’re particularly drawn to the lightning bolt earrings, 7-inch drop bolt-shaped designs that come filled with holographic sparkles that are both flashy and comfy to wear. And if the trend ever goes out of style, don’t worry: Your kids are sure to relish their heirloom Electric Bubblegum earrings when glitter goes haute again in 2050.

This article was originally published in 5280 March 2023.

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