Growing up my family was very frugal. This is not to say that we were poor, we were comfortable, but not enough to throw caution to the wind. I think that the mind set I grew up with lead to my unawareness (for lack of a better word) of fashion trends. I never have cared for the fashion forward styles in clothing, or anything else for that matter. It takes a couple months for something to finally grow on me. I know this has to have come from my upbringing because we were always taught that if what we had was still in good shape, then it was still good, and we only bought new things when they were truly needed.
I also grew up on hand-me-downs. Being the oldest sibling it is abnormal, but this was because my grandma is a “professional” garage shopper. When I was younger one of my favorite things to do was go garage sale-ing with my grandmother (my fifteen cousins and I call her Grandmommy). She has an amazing gift for talking people down and getting things for dirt cheap, whether it was something cool or not. It was not until my 21st year that I went garage sale-ing with Grandmommy again for the first time since I was about ten, that I realized that my grandma literally hustles these poor people with an act that portrays an old confused woman who doesn’t know what she is doing. She knows exactly what she is doing. I found this both eye opening and a bit embarrassing.
Getting back to the point, I do not have much desire for the brand new styles that hit the shelves every season. This (and my lack of funds) has always kept me from buying new things until I absolutely needed them. However, I do absolutely love the feeling of wearing something new for the first time. It feels so refreshing, which I think is why getting new things has so much appeal. I think getting new things also feels wonderful because it poses a new opportunity to show the world our personality. I think that the need to have your own flair (if you will) is part of being human. We all want to stand out, to be different, to be noticed for being unique.
I think this goes right along with the Max Neef Matrix because it identifies human needs, much like Maslow’s Hierarchy. I think need for newness agrees with the Max Neef Matrix in seven distinct ways. 1) Subsistence – one of our basic needs is for functioning clothing. So the elation we get when having new things can relate to this because if we never got new clothing, then we wouldn’t be meeting our need for function. 2) Affection – by keeping up with our wardrobe by getting new things we are expressing who we are. This helps the ones we care for by giving them the opportunity to observe what we wear and therefore letting them get to know us in subliminal ways. 3) Understanding – this can also blend in with affection, but it also sends a message to the world about who we are, or who we want them to think we are. 4) Leisure – simply because shopping is a fun activity. 5) Creation – when we get new things we are simultaneously thinking about how these new things will go with our old things, or with other new things. This is, after all, creating. We create new outfits, new combinations, new ways in which things can be worn or shown off. This satisfies our need for creation. 6) Identity – this one should be obvious. by constantly tweaking what we wear we are adapting to the ever changing styles, while expressing our personalities through clothing. 7) Freedom – getting new things is a way for us to exercise our freedom to wear what we want, be and express who we are, and to do it in the way that we see fit.
I think this is all relevant because it helps us see why humans have the need to get new things, and to understand what it takes to make something seem “new”. We can perhaps engineer a way to get people to understand the old saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. What I am saying is that “new to you” can also feel good.
With this new knowledge, I would like to know why sometimes getting things that have been used by another person first can feel less energizing then getting something brand spanking new. I have always experienced life through the hand-me-down system, which I think has made me more excepting of other people’s “trash”. But I also understand why getting some things brand new is preferable to the earlier. While still, there are things that go up in value when they have been aged and previously owned. Why is this such a phenomenon?