Old-school meets new-school: Vintage label design

Vintage label design has a certain appeal – one that many aren’t sure how to describe, or put their finger on, exactly. The truth is, vintage imagery elicits feelings of comfort. A comfort that comes with the familiar, and the nostalgic. In a world full of technological advancements and fast-paced lifestyles, reminders of the past help us calm down and take a beat to remember what’s important. Standing in stark contrast to our modern, minimalist world today, vintage design has the power to transport us to the past, when times were simpler and life was slower. Are you interested in bringing this style of design into your product label?

Vintage label design trends

So what exactly is vintage label design? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular vintage styles often used on packaging and products today. 

Art Deco

Rising out of the 1920s and 30s, Art Deco style consists of geometric shapes within symmetrical patterns and idealised human figures, and looks to the modern and man-made for inspiration.

Art Nouveau

Curved lines and intricate floral detail define Art Nouveau designs. The style emerged at the end of the 19th century, known for its contrasting colours, ornate patterns and imagery focusing on natural beauty. 

Vintage badges

Vintage badge imagery is a popular choice today for product labels, often seen on gin and whiskey bottles. The design mimics stamps from the past, displaying the characteristic carved wood and rubber graphic effect. 

Letterpress

Nothing says ‘olden days’ more than letterpress designs, reminiscent of the typewriter era. These designs are all about simplicity, using limited colour palettes and fonts. Letterpress designs are often intended for extra effect, so when you run your hand along them, they feel authentically pressed. 

Mid-century modern

As its name suggests, this style came out of the mid 20th century – considered to be a ‘modern’ aesthetic at the time. The style balances straight, clear lines with gently curved objects, and often incorporates wood tones. 

Punk

Punk Rock imagery was born in the 1970s, and aims to shock and leave you feeling uncomfortable. The style makes use of harsh lines, clashing colours, juxtaposition and mundane imagery.

Steampunk

Steampunk style is futuristic, and yet, Victorian at the same time. It’s a contrasting mix of retrofuturistic imagery, often described as mechanical elegance – a space-age meets industrial revolution sort of look.  

Atomic age

An optimistic take on retrofuturism, the Atomic age style encapsulates the 1950s and 60s utopian view of space exploration through molecular, cell-like shapes and retro-tech imagery.

Swiss-style

Also known as the International Typographic Style, Swiss-style came out of Europe in the first half of the 20th century. The look is easy to recognise – it’s typified by bold block letters overlaid on solid colour backgrounds, often in a 3D fashion.

Vaporwave

A newer design style, Vaporwave first emerged on the internet, creating an aesthetic out of smooth 1980s and 90s elevator music coupled with a pastel colour scheme. With its heavy use of vectors, Vapourwave style has a surrealist, video-game feel. 

Tips for creating a vintage label design

1. Colour Palette

First and foremost, pick a palette from the era you would like to reference. Look at designs from that era for colour inspiration, and choose a combination that suits your product, and will appeal to its target market. (Read about colour psychology here).

2. Font

Like the colour palette, the font that you choose for your label design should evoke an association with the era you are referencing. Consider the font styles used at that time and the means of printing. For example, were typewriters used back then? If so, you may want to bring this look into your label design. Alternatively, if you’ve gone with a modern-esque style like Vapourwave, consider using a pixelated font to keep with the ‘old-school’ gaming theme.

3. Construction

The elements of design (illustration, typography, colour palette, and layout) need to be carefully considered to achieve the style you’re aiming to evoke. Play up or play down the vintage feel of your product label by conforming to the design aesthetic of your chosen style. For example, if you want to go all out with the Steampunk aesthetic, be liberal with your use of embossing, sepia tones and juxtaposed Victorian imagery.

4. Balance vintage with modern

When working on a retro look for your product label, keep in mind that certain modern design principles will be necessary to adhere to. For example, your design should be web-responsive and consist of web-safe fonts. Remember, just because your label design is vintage, it doesn’t mean your customers are! Your design will need to work with modern devices to be relevant in the market. 

Going nostalgic with a vintage label design?

So you’ve decided to give your product a new vintage-esque label design? Then have us do the print job – we’ll ensure your label has all the charm of the olden days (and all the quality of the 21st century).

Get a quote today!