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What’s the Difference between Vintage & Retro

What’s the difference between vintage & retro? And other fashion questions you’re too afraid to ask

There are many fashion mysteries plaguing us ordinary folk – like what exactly makes linen so expensive, and can I successfully pull off a hat in winter? I came up with this list in attempt to clarify some of the confusions that so often crop up in the fashion world.

 What’s the difference between vintage and retro?

 Retro pays homage to the style of a bygone era, by imitating of the trends and styles of the recent past – in addition, retro items are continually created and manufactured today (like that seventies party costume you wore that one time). Vintage refers to an item that originated from a previous era (anything older than 20-30 years), such as a dress your mother owned or a motorcycle from the 60’s. To add further confusion, if something is antique this means it was made during a much earlier period (at least 100 years ago) and is thus more valuable and rare than something vintage.

 Style & trend

 The difference between ‘style’ and ‘trend’ come in variation of ‘fashion’ and ‘style’ where fashion is the umbrella term for the art of styling. Style refers to the overall theme you’re going for in any one look, for example a rock chick style would consist of a leather jacket, skinny jeans and chunky boots. A trend is a fad or craze with an expiration date – shoulder pads of the 80’s and flare pants of the 70’s for instance. Style can include elements of trend, although it stands independently from it.

 Boutique and a shop

Department stores, small retail shops and boutiques are just a few examples of stores that sell fashion items. Once upon a time any small shop was referred to as a boutique. Nowadays, boutiques are a type of store that target a more niche market. They specialise in a more personalised line of fashion, catering to shoppers with a more distinct style. Australian Flavour is an example of a popular online boutique. Department stores on the other hand sell a wide variety of products from household goods to fashion products and cater to the general public. Some Australian department stores are Target, Big W and Kmart, while David Jones is an example of a more high-end department store.

 Cotton & linen

 In the fashion world, cotton and linen are considered to be the most comfortable fabrics to wear. This is because they are natural, as opposed to synthetic. The main difference between the two is that they originate from different plants; linen comes from flax, while cotton comes from the cotton plant. Cotton is suitable for all skin types as it doesn’t irritate and is often used for bed sheets, women’s dresses and baby clothes. Linen is finer, more expensive and prone to wrinkles.

 A fashion designer & a clothing designer

 A fashion designer’s professional life is considerably more glamorous than that of a clothing designer. Fashion designers are heavily involved in all aspects of design and incredibly influential in the industry. They not only create the designs they also commission them and then showcase them on both national and international fashion shows. Some of the designs are distributed in boutique stores. A clothing designer, by comparison is employed by a manufacturer to design clothing suitable for the general public. Designers create to prototypes of the clothes which then must be approved by the creative director. They then present their designs to distributers in order to sell them.

  Wholesale and retail

 A wholesaler is a middleman who buys from manufacturers and sells goods to industrial consumers, retailers and the general public. A retailer is the last link in the distribution channel and has the closest contact with the customers. They sell goods at an increased price to make a profit.

Skye is a fashion and lifestyle blogger on her blog thehighlifefashion. She enjoys shopping, giving style tips to her friends and occasionally taking her own advice.


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