Difference Between Retro and Vintage

Retro and Vintage both terms mean something related to the past but both in categories. Retro means a thing that represents the past. It can be an old-fashioned dress or car or even building or anything else. An object doesn’t need to be old in order to be called a Retro.


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On the other hand, Vintage is the real objects or materials from the past that are preserved. This thing precisely should be more than a particular age in order to be called a Vintage. These things are don’t fall under the category of antique but are somewhat similar with an age difference.

Retro vs Vintage

The difference between Retro and Vintage is the age of the material of that particular thing which can be a car or a dress or anything. The main thing which is similar for both of the terms is that these things, either Retro or Vintage, were both types of things related to old times.

Retro vs Vintage

Retro is the things that were similar to the things that were present in the past. We can, for example, think of a car which is given just the look of cars from the 1980s or 1970s. These things are not particularly old but are more related to the past with style. The fashion copied from the past is depicted in these things, which are called Retro.

Vintage is the things which are actually from the past. These things are not kept under the category of antique because they are not old enough. These things are around 15 or 20 years old on average. In this case, these are totally real and not copies of the old things.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonRetroVintage
AgeNew or Old (age is less relevant) Old (Should be more than 15 or 20 years)
Items Cant be anything for example cloths, jewelry, etc. but it may or may not be oldCant be anything for example cloths, jewelry, etc. but are old
Nature of OriginalityBorrowed from past fashionReal and are not borrowed form of fashion
UniquenessStill can be in production and is widely availableNot in production and is unique in nature

What is Retro?

The word Retro is derived from the Latin word “Retrospectus,” which means moving or going backward. This takes us to the word Retro, which can be assumed to mean bringing up the old fashion to the modern era. This reviving nature of Retro is what makes it so much different from Vintage things.

Retros can be said as the items which copy a particular style of a particular time which usually are a decade or two old. These are styles or fashions which have been trends of Vintage styles. In a way, both Retro and Vintages are connected.

Retro can be said as the new version of Vintage things. Retro, in comparison, is of the lesser price, which makes it affordable. People who cannot afford Vintage things due to price, as well as availability, go for Retro.

Retro gives a very similar in fashion just put in new material. Retro though looks like old-style but is made up of materials of modern times. The appearance and the materials are what make it so much different, along with age.

What is Vintage?

The word Vintage is derived from “Vindemia.” The word Vintage was firstly used for wine and to describe their age. This word now describes the things which are old but not old enough to become an antique.

To become an antique, the thing has to be precisely more than 100 yrs. But things that are more than 15 or 20 years but less than 80 years are known as Vintage. It is also said that real Vintage is around 50 years old. 

These are not copies of old fashion but rather are old things. These things are mainly from the 1920s to the 1980s. This can be clothes or cars or anything made during that time. The materials used in this kind of thing are old and cannot be new like Retro.

 For example, Vintage clothes are only called Vintage if the cloth and style used in them are more than 20 years old, thus creating a great difference from Retro.

Main Differences Between Retro and Vintage

  1. Though both the things are very much similar in term of style but is very different in the case of materials.
  2. The fashion style for Retro can look just like Vintage things, but Vintage has a different kind of materials and appearance in themselves.
  3. The Materials of Retro can be old or new, but Vintage things are compulsory to be more than 15 or 20 years old in order to be called a Vintage.
  4. The price of Retro differs from Vintage, which is usually higher than Retro. The Vintage is more authentic while Retro is reproduced things.
  5. The new materials of Retro give it a better-polished look which is mainly either inspired or borrowed from Vintage fashion or style. 
  6. Both Retro and Vintage things represent a particular time to which that thing belongs. But Retro is a newly produced version of that old fashion while Vintage literally means a thing from the past.
  7. For example, when a style of pairs of shoes are copied and produced by new leathers or materials, it is called Retro. But if an old shoe with age more than 15 or 20 years it is called Vintage.
  8. Vintage deals more with age, style, or construction, while Retro deals more with fashion or style, or appearance.
Difference Between Retro and Vintage


  1. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/aup/necsus/2015/00000004/00000002/art00010
  2. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/aup/necsus/2015/00000004/00000002/art00007?crawler=true
  3. https://tidsskrift.dk/aktualitet/article/view/111369
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