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Retro is a culturally outdated or aged style, trend, mode, or fashion, from the overall post-modern past, that has since that time become functionally or superficially the norm once again. The use of "retro" style iconography and imagery interjected into post-modern art, advertising, mass media, etc. It generally implies a vintage of at least fifteen or twenty years. For example, clothing from the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s could be retro.
The word "retro" derives from the Latin prefix retro, meaning "backwards, or in past times" – particularly as seen in the words retrograde, implying a movement toward the past instead of a progress toward the future, and retrospective, referring to a nostalgic (or critical) eye toward the past.
In the postwar period, it increased in usage with the appearance of the word retrorocket (short for "retrograde rocket", a rocket generating thrust in a direction opposite to that of a spacecraft's orbital motion) used by the American space program in the 1960s. In France, the word rétro, an abbreviation for rétrospectif  gained cultural currency with reevaluations of Charles de Gaulle and France’s role in World War II. The French mode rétro of the 1970s reappraised in film and novels the conduct of French civilians during the Nazi occupation. The term rétro was soon applied to nostalgic French fashions that recalled the same period.
Shortly thereafter it was introduced into English by the fashion and culture press, where it suggests a rather cynical revival of older but relatively recent fashions. (Elizabeth E. Guffey, Retro: The Culture of Revival, pp. 9–22). In Simulacra and Simulation, French theorist Jean Baudrillard describes "retro" as a demythologization of the past, distancing the present from the big ideas that drove the “modern” age.
Specific types of retro 
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Retro art 
The style now called "retro art" is a genre of pop art which was developed in the 1940s and 1950s in response to a need for bold, eye-catching graphics that were easy to reproduce on simple presses available at the time in major centres. Retro advertising art has experienced a resurgence in popularity since its style is distinctive from modern computer-generated styling. Contemporary artist Anne Taintor uses retro advertising art as the centerpiece for her ongoing commentary on the modern woman. Specific styling features include analog machine design, vintage television program etc.
Perhaps the most famous example of a retro pop-art character is the more generalized form of the Ward Cleaver-styled J. R. "Bob" Dobbs-esque icon which has been widely played off, copied, and parodied.
Retrogaming is a pastime which is becoming increasingly popular where individuals play video games on vintage computers or vintage game consoles; although what constitutes a vintage or retro machine is open to debate. Typically most retro gamers are interested in Atari 2600, Nintendo Entertainment System, Mega Drive, Dreamcast, Super Nintendo, and classic Game Boy games and consoles. Emulation often plays a part in retrogaming if the original hardware is unavailable.
Retro fashion 
Retro fashion dates from c. 1940-1980. Retro fashion is a clothing style which consists in wearing clothes commonly used in the past. This way of clothing often includes garments and accessories that are characteristic of such times, and many people use them in an exaggerated way and in combination with current clothing. Examples are: leather handbags from the 1950s, "bell-bottom jeans", Poodle skirts, big sunglasses, fedoras, funky jackets (commonly Adidas Classics) and shoes, small neckties, chiffon scarves, sport equipment, skinny jeans etc. Makeup may also play a part in feminine retro fashions, with focal points being heavily-lined eyes and bright red lipstick; hairstyles such as pompadours, ponytails, and ducktails may be adopted, as well as styles that model film stars of the 1940s and 1950s.
Retro erotica 
Retro erotica is usually photography in the style of pinups or pornography typically dating from the 1970s or earlier. It ranges from hardcore to non-nude pinup style photography, often featuring lingerie such as girdles, bullet bras and garter belts and hosiery with hairstyles, makeup and props fashioned after those periods. Some aficionados distinguish retro (modern photography in an older style) from vintage (actual period photos or film) while others conflate the two as either retro or vintage. There are a number of web sites dedicated to both types.
Retro sport 
A specific and clear example of this trend is the way in which the sport garments from the 1970s and 1980s are used nowadays. Soccer jackets, jerseys and t-shirts with former logos of the soccer associations are very popular; their designs commonly remember the old days by using lines in the sides and combinations of colours characteristic of those times. A specific case is the 1970 FIFA World Cup held in Mexico. Its logo and font type is used in a variety of retro sport garments. Brands such as Adidas, Puma and Nike have their own divisions specialized in retro products. Some soccer, baseball and basketball clubs also have re-edited their former garments to raise their sales.
The 1970s brought about a fifties revival with American Graffiti, Grease, and Happy Days. This lasted into the eighties with the rockabilly revival. The fifties greaser look greatly influenced the punk subculture.
The 1980s moved on to a 1960s revival with power pop being influenced by sixties pop rock. Various artists covered 1960s pop and R&B hits. Most notable is You Keep Me Hangin' On being covered by Kim Wilde and Where Did Our Love Go? being covered by Soft Cell.
The 2000s began the 1980s revival. This craze has brought about revivals of The Transformers, G.I. Joe, Speed Racer, The Smurfs, and Voltron. The post punk revival coincides with this, as the genre was originally popular (albeit underground) in the 1980s. (Speed Racer had, however, been first revived int the nineties as Speed Racer X and Voltron as Voltron: the Third Dimension.) There was a That 80s Show, but it was shortlived. I Love the 80s, a part of a series of decade retrospectives, became the most popular of the series and spawned two sequel series.
Today, there has been a slight 1990s revival. TV channel Nickelodeon has established a block on its Teenick station featuring 1990s Nickelodeon programs. Several of Nick's 1990s game shows have been revived. There was also an I Love the 90s series.
See also 
- Jadeite (kitchenware)
- Old school
- Ralf Metzenmacher
- Popular culture studies
- Period piece
- Juli Lynne Charlot Poodle skirt creator
- Baudrillard, Jean (1995). Simulacra and Simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-06521-9.
- Collins, James C (1989). Uncommon Cultures: Popular Culture and Post-Modernism. New York/London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-90137-6.
- Eco, Umberto (1986). Travels in Hyperreality. New York: Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-15-191079-3.
- Eco, Umberto (1988). The Structure of Bad Taste. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker.
- Guffey, Elizabeth E (2006). Retro: The Culture of Revival. London: Reaktion. ISBN 978-1-86189-290-4.
- Robyns, Clem (1991). "Beyond the first dimension: recent tendencies in popular culture studies", in Joris Vlasselaers (Ed.) The Prince and the Frog, Leuven: ALW, 14-32.
- Ross, Andrew (1989). No Respect. Intellectuals and Popular Culture. New York/London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-90037-9.
- Samuel, Raphael (1994). Theatres of Memory. London: Verso. ISBN 978-0-86091-209-5.
- Retro-Trader, 2002: Web site listing and displaying many retro related items.
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