Good Afternoon Readers,
It has taken me a while to understand what the difference is between the terms (and classification of) Antique, Vintage and Retro. I wanted to share my informed answers built from many different resources and research over the past few years.
Antique: Refers to an item that is at least 100 years old. You may notice in recent years that antique shops are filled with items from the fifties and sixties. It appears that some people deem antiques can also fall in the 50-99 year range as well. I have also read (and heard) that while you can restore/repair an antique to be considered an antique it should retain its original character after any restoration or repairs. Many have thrown around percentages that relay how much an item can be adjusted (during restore/repair) without diminishing value. I have not found a widely accepted number.
Definition: of or belonging to the past; not modern. dating from a period long ago: antique furniture. Source: Dictionary.com
Vintage: Refers to an item that is around 20 years old or older. With this being said some people (retailers included) consider anything that is between 7-15 years or older authentic vintage because it is from a previous era. The line is blurred in many cases and it is not entirely understood what the oldest age would be. It is said that vintage is anything that approaches the age of being an antique.
Definition: representing the high quality of a past time: vintage cars; vintage movies. old-fashioned or obsolete: vintage jokes. Source: Dictionary.com
Retro: Refers to an item that appears out of fashion or is not in style for the current time period . Again with this being said you will find many objective opinions on what retro means and what decades people believe fit the retro time frame. Most people think retro consists of items reminiscent of the 1950’s-1980’s. Whereas others believe it is a “once upon a time popular item” that may not be so popular at the present time.
Definition: of or designating the style of an earlier time: retro clothes. Source: Dictionary.com
On another token Wikipedia mentions clothing which was produced before the 1920s is referred to as antique clothing and clothing from the 1920s to 20 years before the present day is considered vintage. Source: Wikipedia®
To be clear many would say there is no 100% correct answer as this (the definition of these 3 items) can be quite subjective. These above are my best compiled answers.
I hope this post helps you to easily distinguish the difference between the items your find in your travels. Come back soon for more on how these terms came to be and what some of the experts say about how these pieces can be further defined.
* Note: Antique/vintage car (vehicle) classification does not generally follow the same definitions above.