Y2K to Now: The Top Trends That Shaped the Past Two Decades According to eBay

eBay News Team

The marketplace’s “Top Shopped” retrospective unveils the biggest and most iconic milestones, defined by eBay search and sales data.

With the end of the decade upon us, eBay took a retrospective look back at the top trends and events that shaped our online shopping carts every year since Y2K, according to search and sales data. From Pokémon and velour tracksuits to royal inspiration and fidget spinners, in between, each year’s biggest moments had shoppers searching online for their ‘must-haves’ across millions of brands, products, gadgets and more.

In 2019, consumer shopping cart activity showed us that…

  • Sneaker dominance1 - A growing trend over the past decade, sneaker sales increased in 2019 from the previous year with Air Jordans claiming the top spot with 171% more sales than competitor brands on eBay. 

  • We had pearl fever1 - With influencers flaunting their pearls on social, followers drove interest in pearl accessories. In fact, when Gigi Hadid was seen wearing a string of pearls, eBay saw a 21% uptick in sales.

  • We were watching Game of Thrones1 - With the airing of its final episode in May, show fans were shopping for GoT themed collectibles from posters to ornaments and everything in between.

  • Queen Bey ruled her Throne - Commanding a different throne, with the release of ‘Homecoming’ and ‘Lion King,’ all things Beyonce were trending. eBay saw a spike in Beyonce vinyl sales around the release periods for both films.

  • The rise of micro bags2 - Last year the fanny pack was king but this year, we witnessed a growing popularity for crossbody bags, especially in miniature size. This year the mini crossbody bags, which have seen spikes in sales as high as 65% year over year, were the number one most wanted type of handbag heading into the holidays.

Looking back to the start of the new millennium, below are some of the most popular trends that influenced our online shopping on since 2000 to present.

  • 2000: Pokémon-mania3 - We kicked off the new millennium chasing Pikachu on a small gaming device known as GameBoy, while the Pokémon series and films were on screens everywhere! Everyone was on a quest to ‘catch ‘em all,’ especially the plush versions. Almost 20 years later, Pokémon has held onto its popularity and is the second most popular trading card game sold on eBay, with rare cards sold for upwards of tens of thousands of dollars each time one of them goes on the market.

  • 2001: Please meet Xbox and iPod - In 2001, we witnessed the introduction of the first Xbox and iPod, which made these both the year’s must-have items. Today, both of these items have transformed into iterations of the originals that consumers could have only dreamed were possible.

  • 2002: Cameras go cellular - This year we saw the introduction of the Nokia cellphone camera, the first cell phone with a built-in camera. Everyone wanted to update their phone to snap instant photos. Over the past 20 years, we have seen iPhone and Android up the ante with each new phone release. While users were once excited about the sheer capability of being able to take pictures on the go, now the competition is stiffer than ever with the super-technical capabilities of mobile phone photography.

  • 2003: Velour tracksuits - In 2003 Juicy Couture was purchased by Liz Clairborne, infusing excitement into the brand’s signature velour tracksuits which became a mainstream trend, especially when Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie’s ‘Simple Life’ series premiered. In fact, Paris Hilton recently was interviewed saying she still has an “entire closet that is only Juicy Couture.”  The trend has already been making a comeback in recent years, and we expect this to continue in a big way into the new decade.

  • 2004: Friends said goodbye1 - In May of this year, the popular TV series ‘Friends’ bid farewell to fans when it aired its final episode. Fans snatched series merchandise as an homage to keep the series alive. This year, Friends celebrated 25 years of the beloved 90s TV series and eBay saw a 44% increase in Friends T-shirt sales in September, the official anniversary month.

  • 2005: Reality TV gets real - Thanks to series like Survivor and American Idol (among others), fans were glued to their screens each week to see the latest elimination. With this peek interest for reality TV, fans everywhere were looking to own a piece of their series through auction items or fan merchandise. Did you know that current reality TV queen Kim Kardashian West had her first business venture in the mid-2000s on eBay? Under the username kimsaprincess, KKW would resell designer items she had sourced from celebrity friends’ closets, and would take a cut of the profit as a means to fund her own expensive wardrobe taste.was taking a dip in tie-dye. Shoppers could find tie-dye apparel and accessories in just 

  • 2006: Tie-Dye becomes the new black - This was the year when everything we owned about any corner. Thirteen years later, tie-dye made another resurgence as it appeared on major SS19 runways - Prada, Proenza Schouler and Stella McCartney were three of the biggest names to capture the trends.

  • 2007: The Simpsons4 - With the release of The Simpsons Movie, everyone’s favorite animated series was a cultural moment that inspired everything around us, including our clothes. In the month following the July 27, 2007 release, eBay sales for The Simpsons merchandise spiked an impressive 217%.

  • 2008: We made bold shoe choices5- In addition to going down as the year of the leggings, 2008 was a year when shoppers made UGG boots and Crocs their footwear of choice. It seemed like everyone was asking for UGGs for Christmas -- sales were up 105% going into the 2008 holiday season. Crocs were most popular as a summer shoe, with 135 times more sales on eBay than the season prior.

  • 2009: Guido goes haute - With the premier of MTV’s highly popular ‘Jersey Shore’ series, so came the quest for guido-inspired fashion. 2008 was a year when oversized sunglasses were in along with animal prints, airbrushed hats and graphic t-shirts.

  • 2010: The tablet is born - In 2010 we were introduced to the first iPad, thus ushering in a new era in technology for shoppers. The iPad sustained impression traction on eBay throughout its first year, peaking in December for the holidays. Today, we have seen tablets completely transform the way we use personal devices. As phone screens get bigger and tablets become sleeker, the line between the personal tech devices becomes finer. Items like the Samsung Galaxy Fold made major waves on eBay and in headlines in 2019.

  • 2011: Royal fever - In 2011 we celebrated the union between Prince William and Kate Middleton, an affair we celebrated from beginning to end of year, toasting with our favorite royal-inspired or royal-printed tea sets. Fast forward to the highly anticipated wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, where Royal Wedding fever hit eBay again with sales for fascinators and floral crowns rising 47%. Meghan captivated Americans and Brits alike as she made her procession down the aisle in a custom Givenchy gown, spiking the fashion label to the top searched list on May 19th, 2018. Today, we are equally as inspired by the royal family fashion, as seen clearly by eBay’s 300% increase in Strathberry crossbody bag sales in the past year after the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle was seen wearing the bag. 

  • 2012: British takeover - On the heels of the previous year’s royal-fandom, 2012 was a year where we celebrated all things British from One Direction to 007’s Skyfall film, and in between it all, London hosted the Olympics where the Spice Girls made a special reunion that had shoppers looking for union jack-printed apparel and home decor.

  • 2013: The next generation - In 2013 we saw the newest iteration of a variety of tech and console devices including the iPhone 5S, PlayStation 4, Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, the iPad Air and many more. In December 2013, almost 300 Samsung Galaxy S4s were sold every hour on eBay. We’ve since seen new models come out every year and this year, the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone XR ranked in the top two spots for eBay’s best selling electronics. 

  • 2014: Beauty influence - In 2014, Kylie Jenner launched her very popular lip kits thus igniting the age of beauty influencers and consumers quest for all the latest in lip kits/cosmetics.

  • 2015: 3D flower mania - 2015 will be the year of eternal spring as we witnessed 3D blossoms in everything from decor to clothing. In the last 6 months of the year, eBay sales for 3D flowers rose a staggering 1115% percent!

  • 2016: Superheroes take flight4 - In 2016 we celebrated our favorite superheroes as we saw the release of popular films such as Deadpool, Suicide Squad, Batman, Captain America and more. It comes as no surprise that our favorite heroes and villains were the most popular costumes of the year and still today, Batman ranked in the top five trending Halloween costumes on eBay this year.

  • 2017: Fidget fever5 - 2017 was the year where our fingers stayed busy with fidget spinners of all varieties and colors, and when we weren’t fidgeting, our fingers were searching online for the coolest one, where one was sold every 1.5 seconds on eBay.

  • 2018: Welcome back fanny pack - The 80’s classic had a comeback moment inspiring men, women, children and adults to turn to their favorite hands-free bag. The trend continued into this year where the Gucci Belt Bag outsold similar handbag styles by an average of 10x. 

Until 2020 trends are officially upon us, shoppers can head to to shop a wide selection of items from every era.

ebay decades trend graphic 2021

1 Based on searches and sales on eBay US from October 2018 to October 2019

2 Based on searches and sales on eBay US from January 2004 to December 2019 

3 Based on searches and sales on eBay US from January 2001 to October 2019   

4 Based on searches on eBay US from July 2019 to September 2019

5 Based on sales on eBay US from May 1 - 7, 2017