June 14, 2021

Retro? Vintage? Antique?  And what the heck is Kitsch?

Retro? Vintage? Antique?  And what the heck is Kitsch?

As a collector of many things including Halloween and Christmas decorations, one tends to run across terms that describe the item like ‘retro’ or ‘vintage’.  Sometimes I think I understand exactly what they mean, but other times I start getting confused and the lines get blurred.  Once I started doing even more research on the topic and being the major buyer for the store, I decided I better know more about these terms…especially when things like Kitschmas starts coming into the picture.

Retro is a term used in a lot of Christmas décor.  When looking at the definition for ‘retro’, it can mean any era before the current era, but most references are to the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.   The colors of Retro are normally brighter and fun.  The item is typically new but is made like something in the past.  I love a lot of the Retro reindeer.  Reindeer are some of my favorites and when I see the pinks and blueish greens of the new Retro reindeer it reminds me of Christmas at Grandma’s house.


Vintage, on the other hand, is more related to dating an actual item.  Typically, ‘vintage’ is used on items over 20 years old or older.  Most of these items will not be found in your local mall or Walmart, but rather in Thrift or Antique stores.  If you think about Johanna Parker and her evolution, you could most likely consider her work by Primitives by Kathy as more of her ‘vintage work’, while the Johanna Parker Nostalgic Christmas mugs would be considered more Retro.  Ok, easy enough.

So then you get to ‘antique’.  If ‘vintage’ is about 20 years old, what is ‘antique’?  Something is considered ‘antique’ when it is over 100 years old.  Most of the time, the term ‘antique’ implies a higher value since it is aged.  A lot of things made these days are made to resemble Vintage or Antiqued.  Antiques are graded upon by qualities such as condition, rarity, age, and beauty.  People flock to stores and flea markets to find something unique and of value to add to their collections.  The hard part is people use the term ‘antique’ when it is actually ‘vintage’.  Other times, it can get confusing because a lot of things are made today with terms ‘vintage inspired’, so they will look old, but not necessarily be old.

We now know what the actual definitions of ‘retro’, ‘vintage’ and ‘antique’ are, but what the heck is ‘kitsch’?  I had to look this one up.  Typically, this is meant to describe an item of poor taste or poor quality, generally relating to a holiday such as Christmas (therefore called Kitchmas).  Other definitions include the words cheap or ugly.  So, then what does it mean to decorate in ‘kitsch’?  Really it is about using antique or vintage items or toys and putting something together that ends up being colorful and fun.  Today, you can find Kitschmas items to help you!  In the vintage community, ‘kitsch’ is actually a good thing, and they will use the term ‘kitschy cute’ to describe their decorating style.


Holiday Pizzazz has many options to chose from when decorating for the holidays.  A perfect example is the work by Rachel Garrison of VanDolls Folk Art.  Her style is a creation of Halloween and Christmas vintage inspired folk art.  Johanna Parker Designs by Bethany Lowe also offers that vintage style look and feel to Halloween displays.  Stay tuned to a future Collector’s Corner interview with a perfect example of using Johanna Parker Halloween with her Kitschy-cute displays!


There are so many options to decorating.  Bethany Lowe Christmas items cater to an array of vintage style decorating.  The Vintage Christmas look is sought after while items like the Johanna Parker Christmas mugs are nostalgic and remind us of Christmas past.  Raz Imports offers a lot of options around the ‘retro’ style or Kitschmas.  No matter how you decorate, you should find what you are looking for in our shop.  If not, reach out!  We’re happy to help you find what you are looking for!