Retro vs Vintage: Difference and Comparison

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 a building or anything else. An object doesn’t need to be old in order to be called Retro.

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 don’t fall under the category of antique but are somewhat similar with an age difference.

Key Takeaways

  1. Retro refers to styles that imitate past trends, whereas Vintage refers to items produced in a previous era.
  2. Retro items are mass-produced and have a modern twist, whereas Vintage items are unique and have a historical value.
  3. Retro items are popular for their fun and playful aesthetic, whereas Vintage items are appreciated for their authenticity and craftsmanship.

Retro vs Vintage

Retro refers to something that imitates styles, fashions, or designs from the recent past, particularly from the 1950s, 60s, 70s, or 80s. Vintage is items from a previous era and have an inherent value due to their age, rarity, or quality. It describes items that are at least 20-30 years old.

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 that 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 that 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.

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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 to the items which copy a particular style of a particular time which 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 a lesser price, which makes it affordable. People who cannot afford Vintage things due to price and availability go for Retro.

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


What is Vintage?

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

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 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 things are very much similar in terms of style but are 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 Vintage.
  4. The price of Retro differs from Vintage, which is higher than Retro. Vintage is more authentic, while Retro is reproduced things.
  5. The new materials of Retro give it a better-polished look, mainly 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 with new leathers or materials, it is called Retro. But if an old shoe is over 15 or 20 years old, it is called Vintage.
  8. Vintage deals more with age, style, or construction, while Retro deals more with fashion, style, or appearance.
Difference Between Retro and Vintage

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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8 thoughts on “Retro vs Vintage: Difference and Comparison”

  1. Both retro and vintage are terms that relate to older aesthetics and fashion styles, with the main difference lying in age and originality. Retro items are modern and mass-produced to imitate past styles, while vintage items are authentic and at least 20-30 years old. The price and availability of retro items are different from that of vintage items, making them more accessible for those interested in older aesthetics.

    • Absolutely, it’s interesting how retro items, while being fashioned after the past, are made from modern materials which make them more affordable and widely available compared to vintage items.

    • I agree, retro items are like a modern take on vintage styles, making them more appealing to a wider audience. It’s fascinating to see how different age groups are drawn to these differing styles.

  2. The detailed explanation of retro and vintage, their origins, and the comparison table demonstrate the substantial differences between these two categories. It’s intriguing to see the unique attributes and characteristics of each.

  3. This discussion accurately draws the line between retro and vintage, highlighting the differences in age, nature of originality, price, availability, and uniqueness. It provides a comprehensive understanding of these two distinct categories.

  4. It’s fascinating to delve into the etymology of ‘retro’ and ‘vintage’ and understand how these terms have evolved to define distinct categories of fashion and aesthetics. The clear comparison table provides a detailed contrast between the two.

  5. The distinction between retro and vintage is quite clear – retro focuses on imitating past trends and styles, while vintage refers to original items produced during a previous era. The unique and historical value of vintage items adds to their price and rarity.

    • Indeed, the authenticity and craftsmanship of vintage items set them apart from retro items which are more modern and generally more affordable.


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