I just bought a retro dog bowl

It’s faux woodgrain! How retro is that?

dog bowl 1

Pip at four months

dog bowl 2

Look at the beauty of that! It’s from Collared, a shop in Tunbridge Wells and Hastings for the discerning dog

dog bowl 3

Retro chic obviously not doing it for the dog

And the answer is… probably not retro at all, as the word probably comes from the French “rétrospectif” and entails looking back to things we have known. And as, surely, no one has ever known a faux woodgrain melamine-alike dog bowl even in the weird and wonderful Seventies, this might come under the mantle of that other criminally misused word: kitsch.

There are some interesting Etsy-spats and eBay angst about the misuse of the words retro, vintage and antique, partly because there’s a lot of new stuff out there which has been scuffed up a bit, messily repainted (scabby chic) or simply shipped over from China and labelled with a slippery term.

As fas as I can see…

antique is from A Long Time Ago and Everyone Who Owned It is Dead

vintage is OMG! my aunt/my granny had one of those and it’s fab!

retro is OMG! I had one of those and if I look in my parents’ attic it might still be there!

rare is not rare at all

kitsch is simply bad taste dressed up as a collectible.

If you want to read further, a good summary of retro is here, at the lovely American blog retro renovation, and for the criminal abuse of the word vintage check out this eBay discussion.

eBay, especially, abounds in confused listings like this: Retro Kitsch Art Deco Victorian Vintage Style Antique Silver Bee Brooch Pin which starts at £5.99 and really needs a good talking to about its identity.

bee brooch

No words can describe the beauty of this object

And when you look up retro dog bowl you come to things like this:

retro dog bowl

What are we looking back to here? Childhood? Stacking cups?

which is not my idea of a dog bowl I may have spotted as a child  at all. They were, unlike our current fashion for poppy, cheery retro items, quite dull and boring and likely to look like this:


Why aren’t kids today as helpful as this?

Or even this:


That’s bigger than my head!

Both ads from the wonderful site Vintage Ad Browser.

However, I can do kitsch. The dog bowl matches the teak-skinned doors in my house, the melamine bathroom and the lampshades I bought from John Lewis, the day after I got the keys:

john lewis woodland drum lit up

Look what happens when it lights up! Wow! Kitsch or what!

Ooh, I’ve been wanting to put those up there for ever such a long time. Feels good.






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