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We are (as human beings) programmed to feel an indoctrinated affinity for the things we experienced as children. This is largely down to a science I won’t pretend to understand, but I can appreciate it and I have experienced it myself firsthand. ‘Retro’ is no longer a phrase used as a term of derision for those living in the past; retro has in fact become a lifestyle choice. Retro clothing, retro gaming, retro films, television and toys all amount to the same thing, namely a tangible connection to a part of ourselves we all thought we’d lost upon entering our cynical adulthood. The pure, unfiltered and unburdened enthusiasm that gets watered down in the piffle of everyday existence can be yours once again for little more than an afternoon spent browsing eBay and the cost of a fresh tank of petrol.
The word ‘retro’ itself is a derivation of the Latin prefix, which literally means ‘backwards’. In its most generic form it essentially refers to any item or activity towards which we feel a strong nostalgia. As the world of retro is hardly set in stone (as the world moves on, the things we thought were contemporary today could be retro tomorrow), there are no rules as to what is and what is not to be considered retro, but below we will examine just a few of the usual suspects in greater detail.
Technically any games console released in the 20th century could now be referred to as a retro console and there is a huge community gestating online which has a genuine passion for these vintage consoles. The original Nintendo Entertainment System is a classic system that many of us grew up with and there’s an innocence and stylistic uniformity to the console’s games that you just don’t find in today’s high octane, blood thirsty shooters and hyper-realistic sports ‘simulations’. Even relatively modern consoles such as the Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo GameCube are also popular in the retro community by sheer virtue of their comparative rarity (both were considered commercial failures). Retro gaming has even made its mark on the fashion world, with the Atari logo especially establishing itself as something of a semi-religious symbol for many fans, to be worn with pride and just a hint of tongue-in-cheek self knowing.
Every era has its fashions. The 50’s and 70’s had their bell-bottomed trousers, the 40’s had its vibrant, flowery dresses and the 80’s had its bold, brash colours, but as time moves on and fashions shift, things that were once considered the height of ‘cool’ are suddenly considered ‘old hat’. The wonderful thing about retro though is that your old wardrobe doesn’t have to be discarded just because it’s no longer seen as ‘the cutting edge’. Although you might have to ‘pretend’ to wear it ironically, retro clothing (as in any item of clothing once considered stylish and now considered the total opposite) is almost its own industry and the retro ‘look’ is now accepted as a genuine left-field style choice with heavily-lined eyes, bright red lipstick and exaggerated hairstyles which are very much the styles most notable features.
The children of today have access to the kind of toys we only ever dreamed about or saw in high fantasy science fiction films and those of us currently in our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and beyond had to make do with far simpler and more humble forms of entertainment. The toys of our youth though, were not only built to last and looked fantastic but might actually still hold some appeal and worth for our own children. For older retro fans one of the most sought after items are retro bikes, with the classic ‘dutch‘ design amongst the most popular. These were elegant machines, built to be reliable, safe and attractive. The overly complicated and glossy bikes of today can’t possible compete. Board games are also a massive seller in the retro market, with classic games from the 50’s and onwards such as ‘Mouse Trap’ and ‘Cluedo’ selling for surprising amounts via online auction sites. Electronic games from the 80’s and 90’s such as ‘Simon’ and the original Nintendo ‘Game & Watch’ games also fetch lofty amounts if they are still in serviceable condition.
We have only scratched the surface as far as the retro community goes but hopefully your interest has been piqued. Other facets we haven’t touched on include retro art (propaganda posters and Andy Warhol style prints) and retro sport (worn 60’s blazers and old fashioned ‘sneakers’) but even then we’re only breaching the tip of the iceberg. The retro world is a truly exciting place that is growing by the day so as convenient as it might be to spend your whole life living in the future; our pasts deserve to be celebrated and to be enjoyed.
About The Author:
Lucas Conner is a blogger who is astonished at the popularity of retro items as this new style takes over many sectors of society such as fashion and the toy market. Even retro dutch bikes have become iconic collector’s items and therefore are a great invest as well as being great fun to use.