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A Guide to Shabby Chic, Kitsch and Retro Styles

A Guide to Shabby Chic, Kitsch and Retro Styles

A continuing trend among customers of curiosity, gift and souvenir shops are the styles associated with ‘shabby chic’, ‘retro’ and ‘vintage’.

The following guide has been designed to help you understand these terms and offer some suggestions on which products at Puckator fall into these categories.

What is shabby chic?

The style of design is characterised by an aged and time-worn appearance. This can be from the fact that the products are actually old and second-hand, or the result of intentional wear, when new products have been purposely distressed to produce this look.

Shabby chic furniture often appears repeatedly painted, with a lumpy and uneven finish — paint work is sometimes chipped or uneven. Again, this can be either natural or affected.

Popular shabby chic colours include white, off-white or faded pastels, while floral patterns, simple lines or check are a popular motif.

What products could be displayed under this category?

Shabby chic incorporates soft furnishings, kitchenware, garden ornaments and fashion items.

A large number of items incorporating this style can be found throughout the Puckator website.

Below are some examples:







Wood & Fabric Boat Decoration with Shells & Nets




Wooden Lighthouse with Entrance




Cushion - Home Sweet Home 43 x 43cm




Gone Riding Bicycle Coir Door Mat




Set of 2 Rounded Cases - London Map




Detailed Moroccan Style Cream Lantern with Coloured Glass



Do any designers cater to this style?

The designs and motifs of Lauren Billingham may be of interest to someone seeking this style.

What is kitsch?

Kitsch has a broader and less focused definition than shabby chic. While the latter has recognisable, reproducible themes, kitsch is to some extent a matter of taste. Objects and designs that are considered kitsch are sometimes enjoyed precisely because of their inexpensive or overly-sentimental appearance. Those who appreciate kitsch often do so with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour.

What products could be displayed under this category?

Though kitsch was originally a label for certain art forms, it can now be attached to almost any type of object or piece of design, depending on its style. Toys are a popular target for the kitsch collector, along with souvenir gift shop collectables and objects containing old-fashioned ‘post card humour’.  From time to time, certain kitsch trends can also develop. Examples of these include Christmas-style jumpers and objects featuring owl motifs.

The following are some further examples of what might be considered kitsch:







Naughty Santa Pen (Explicit Phrases)




Cute Colourful Robotnies Robot LED Key Ring




Mr Bean Solar Pal - Licensed Design




Queen Light and Sound (Rule Britannia) Keyring




Sicilia Key Ring




Ceramic Pug Head Shaped Mug




Flamingo Jewellery Box



What is retro?

Retro comes from the word ‘retrospective’ and relates to past styles. The word is often attached to designs from the recent past, most notably the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

While the term is used to describe items from those eras, the precise meaning relates to modern products and styles that deliberately mimic themes from the past.

Popular retro designs include the bold patterns seen on many fashion items in the ‘swinging’ 60s, or the later focus on oranges and beige that typifies certain products from the 70s, for example, wallpaper and furniture.

The table below showcases some of Puckator’s items that follow the retro style:







Retro Scooter Design Enamel Mug




UK Flag Tweezers




Snow Tiger Photo Design Cushion Cover with Insert 50 x 50cm




Ted Smith Retro Rides Bicycle on Handle Mug




Retro Motorbike Design Enamel Mug



What is vintage?

When talking about fashion, either clothing or interior design, vintage is often used as a catch-all term that refers to anything that looks old. This means anything from 20 to 100 years old. However, many people associate vintage fashion with wartime and pre-war styles, reaching back to the beginning of the century. Anything over 100 years old is classed as antique.

If you are interested in creating some interesting displays featuring the themes of shabby chic, kitsch or retro, contact us for advice or visit our products pages to search for the best items.

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