n. Low-cost consumer goods that are also perceived as being stylish or fashionable; a style that is reminiscent of or based on 1950s architecture and design.
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By turning to the Spades, Song is following a new trend among retailers such as Target, Kmart, H&M, and Zara, who are trying to establish themselves in the consumer mind as brands that are both luxurious and low-cost. Luxury in this case doesn't refer to goods (or services) that are made of the finest, most expensive, or rarest materials. It merely means that there is an association in the consumer's mind between the brand and the idea of style and fashion. In some cases, the companies offer inexpensive products with high-end styling (Martha Stewart for Kmart) or knockoffs of high-fashion items (H&M). In other cases, the association is more of a perception play created through graphically creative advertising and the use of designer names (Target). Author Thomas Hine, although he was referring specifically to 1950s mass-consumer culture, has coined the perfect term for this category of consumer goods: populuxe.
—Cate T. Corcoran, “Runway Fashion,” Slate Magazine, September 15, 2003
The Fleischmann Atmospherium Planetarium has been listed on the National Register since Sept. 22, 1994. The structure and design was nominated as significant under Criterion A as: "Historical Background and Significance and particularly because of its importance in scientific research," and as the first atmospherium in the world. It was also listed as significant under Criterion C: "A style of Populuxe Architecture that embodied the futuristic outlook prevalent in American society in the early 1960s," and has roots in designs of internationally known architects Le Corbusier and Marcel Breuer.
—“Your turn Felvia Belaustegui,” Reno Gazette-Journal, January 02, 2003
1986 (earliest)
Populuxe is a synthetic word, created in the spirit of the many coined words of the time. Madison Avenue kept inventing words like "autodynamic," which described a shape of car which made no sense aerodynamically. Gardol was an invisible shield that stopped bullets and hard-hit baseballs to dramatize the effectiveness of a toothpaste. It was more a metaphor than an ingredient. Slenderella was a way to lose weight, and maybe meet a prince besides. Like these synthetic words, Populuxe has readfly identifiable roots, and it reaches toward an ineffable emotion. It derives, of course, from populism and popularity, with just a fleeting allusion to pop art, which took Populuxe imagery and attitudes as subject matter. And it has luxury, popular luxury, luxury for all. This may be a contradiction in terms, but it is an expression of the spirit of the time and the rationale for many of the products that were produced. And, finally, Populuxe contains a thoroughly unnecessary "e," to give it class. That final embellishment of a practical and straightforward invention is what makes the word Populuxe, well, Populuxe.
—Thomas Hines, Populuxe, Alfred A. Knopf, October 01, 1986
Populuxe, that quintessential 1950s look (think tail fins on cars, aerodynamic appliances with chrome accents, and pastel shades galore) has many synonyms or near-synonyms: mid-century modernism, space age, Jetsonian (or Jetson-age), Flintstone-moderne, doo-wop, roadside Americana, coffee shop modern, and googie. (Googie? It's named after a chain of California diners.) The word populuxe was invented by social critic Thomas Hine, who used it throughout his 1986 book of the same name (see the earliest example).