Retro, Vintage, or Kitsch?

by lakeerieartists

Shopping at second hand stores, vintage clothing shops, and used clothing stores, once solely the shopping domain for the poor, has now become trendy and practical.

In the past several years, going in back in time to find our most fashionable look has become a mainstream phenomenon. Shopping at second hand stores, vintage clothing shops, and used clothing stores, once solely the shopping domain for the poor, has now become trendy and practical, as well as eco-friendly. Not only that, but making new clothes out of existing clothing is considered to be chic and artsy.

With the global economy sluggish, and people looking for ways to save money, and still be fashionable and eco-friendly, this fashion trend is only going to continue to grow.

One Fashion Trend or Several

kitsch poker necklaceThere are a few fashion terms that are being used interchangeably that need a better definition before we can decide whether we have more than one fashion trend. I like to use Dictionary.com for definitions, so each of the following definitions comes from there.

Retro

of or designating the style of an earlier time: retro clothes .

Vintage

representing the high quality of a past time: vintage cars; vintage movies .

Kitsch

something of tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or undiscriminating taste.

It is interesting to note that retro connotes "like the style of a past era" and vintage connotes "of the past era". Therefore, retro items are not actually from a past era, but are reproductions, while vintage items are actually authentic. Generally, vintage items are considered to be 50 or more years old, and antique 100 years old, but the way people use these terms are not exact. However, if you are looking for authentic vintage items, make sure the seller you are buying it from is not selling retro items or reproductions. Kitsch does not seem to connote any time reference and can be from any era.

I believe that we have more than one fashion trend that are related and simultaneous. The retro fashion trend is for people who want the look of a past era, but either don't care or don't want to buy used or old clothing, furniture or accessories. The vintage fashion trend is for authentic items from the previous era. This trend may or not be mixed in with the newer trend towards eco-chic green fashion that has been picked up by many artists. The eco-chic green trend encourages people to recycle, and reuse their existing items potentially making them into new or improved items.

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Retro Reminds Us of Happier Bygone Days

With people disappointed in the current economy, it is no surprise that they are turning to retro style like the retro bowling shirt to the right. Charlie Sheen has made retro bowling shirts highly popular with his character, Charlie Harper, on the television show, Two and a Half Men. This retro look is seen as sexy, hot, and from a time when people had less financial cares than we do now. However, the shirts are brand new, even though they are a reproduction of a style from the 50's, 60's and 70's.

It is possible to find vintage bowling shirts similar in style to the retro bowling shirt pictured here in vintage clothing shops. Vintage shops specialize in providing customers with authentic vintage clothing, furniture, and accessories and the good vintage shops learn about the eras that their merchandise comes from. Some vintage items are extremely collectible and rare, and therefore become way more expensive than they were when they were new. This can be true of clothing, jewelry, and household items. True vintage collectors only want the authentic items for their collection.

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Kitsch Can Be From Any Era

Kitsch has become a more and more popular collectible in the last few years, and can come from any era, however most collectors prefer to collect kitsch items from a specific time period.

Recently, the Allee Willis Museum of Kitsch has opened which is an incredible collection of kitsch that is still growing. Allee Willis has been collecting kitsch for many years and her collection is incredible.

Kitchen Kitsch Fun for Your Kitchen

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Forward Trend is Looking Backwards

So if you want to be the hottest and trendiest person in your group of friends, you will have to decide if you want to just look retro or really be vintage through and through.  Or you can just restyle all of your old clothing and hop on the green fashion trend.  Any one of these choices will make you and your home look cool, or is that hot?  Except for kitsch, unless you are a collector like Allee.

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Updated: 09/28/2014, lakeerieartists
 
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2uesday on 04/07/2012

Kitsch is the one that I would find difficult to define. It is one of those things that you recognize when you see it but you struggle to define it in words. I also think that vintage and vintage style can be confusing at times. I usually assume that vintage style is not necessarily old but that vintage is.

lakeerieartists on 01/10/2012

Yep, you got it. :) It is all relative though. What we consider from our pasts, our kids will see as vintage. :(

Jimmie on 01/10/2012

This is so helpful. Many times I've wondered what the definition of vintage. I hear people speak of "vintage 80s." Technically, that is not old enough, right?

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