The ‘brand new’ generation 364



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Many years ago, I bought an amazing second hand couch for $300. It was velvet and I hadn’t seen anything else like it. I loved it dearly and still consider it my greatest secondhand buy. I haven’t lost the thrill of a bargain since, however recently I have been noticing a worrying trend – there’s a new generation forming in people aged 15-40…they want everything brand new.

One case in point was a few weeks ago, my daughter went to give some of her old baby clothes to her cousin, who is expecting a baby boy. My youngest grandson was born 3 years ago and Clara doesn’t need the clothes anymore, so what better thing to do than give them away, free of charge, to our family? You wouldn’t believe the horrible response she got that brought her to tears. Her cousin may as well have thrown the clothes in her face – when presented with a neat package, she looked at the clothes and said “We have money, we don’t need your charity”. She had rejected near new baby clothes and items that would come in handy because she thought Clara was insinuating she was poor just through this simple act! My God. She ended up buying everything new (for the princely sum of $500) while Clara’s baby clothes were given to an actual charity!

This led me to think, are hand-me-downs dead? Are we so proud that we can’t accept useful things from our family? I enjoyed passing on my little trinkets and beloved clothing to my daughters and all through their childhood, they wore each other’s clothes, and not a single school uniform was worn by only one of them! Hand-me-downs used to be the thread that held a hard-working family together. Receiving a well-worn jumper from your brother or cousin was just as good as getting one new, except even more so. It was just a nice and sentimental thing to do, let alone a cost-cutting one! Are these values that we have lost? Are we scared to give our belongings to others lest they be offended?

When I thought about it, our dear cousin was only doing what everyone else her age does. She wanted new because new translates to better in their eyes. But from my own perspective, I couldn’t afford new and when you are on your last dollar trying to support your child, you learn to scrimp and save where you can. I’ve even seen 40 year olds with the same thought process – they drive on by a bargain because it isn’t 100 per cent new in package. We are so wasteful already as a society, so it pains me to see precious items go to waste in charity stores. Young girls especially are only interested in second hand items if they’re vintage and expensive, otherwise they turn their nose up at it.

Going to the tip shop, garage sales and secondhand stores is one of the things I enjoy most. I revel in my purchases and feel good when I’ve saved myself money and gotten a bargain. Babies don’t know any better, so I still don’t understand why it matters what you put them in, as long as they’re warm and comfortable! It’s snobbery of the worst kind.


What do you think about this author’s points? Do you agree? What do you think has happened to hand-me-downs? What have you seen in your own family? Share with us below.

Guest Contributor

  1. That is the trouble with today’s world….everyone trying to outdo their mates. I love second hand shopping and so does my daughter. Quality clothes don’t need to cost a fortune and you end up with twice as much for the price. To make things extra special a little addition to or alteration of a pre-loved item can make all the difference at very minimal or no cost.

  2. I love hand-me-downs for myself even. My grandson’s clothes & toys that he has grown out of, are passed on to a close friend, for her two grandsons.

  3. Not dead in my family. Clothes and baby needs are swapped around frequently. Even my daughters friends swap and hand down clothes.
    Your niece doesn’t sound like a very nice person. That was very rude. But I wonder, did your daughter ask her first if she would like the clothes, or did she just rock up and give her the package of clothes. I think it does make a difference. It’s always better to ask first.
    This reminds me of an incident that happened to me over thirty years ago and I gave not, and will not forget.
    My neighbour called me over the back fence and said, I’ve got lots of leftover meat from the party last night, I thought you might be able to use it for you and the kids. Before I could say a word she shoved the plate into my hand and said, I was just going to give it to the dogs.
    What she deemed a good gesture, and I thought was very nice of her, right then and there turned in to an incredible insult. Even though I know she didn’t realise what she’d said and didn’t mean it the way it came out. 30 years later I haven’t forgotten.

    3 REPLY
    • I am not ashamed to say I have bought a lot of things from the op shops u just have to make sure they are in good condition then give them a good wash in hot water when u get home.. I know someone who only goes to the op shops and she always looks really nice but she is very slim female so that makes it a lot easier… plus I look after my clothes I wash a lot of jumpers and cardigans and tops by hand then hang them out properly even still have hung them out the “old fashioned way” through a pair of panty hose.. yep that is going back many years.. the young wouldn’t even know what that was,,

  4. I had twins 41 years ago and my sis in laws, cousins all gave me clothes cots etc. It was wonderful getting all the hand me downs, I am not sure how I would have managed without this help.
    I think this young woman is very rude and ungrateful
    An appropriate response could have been, Thank you but we were prefer to choose our own clothing.

    1 REPLY
    • yes we didn’t get government money left right and centre then, so had to rely on our own savings or friends and family to help out. I think people are “given too much” without earning it, and so they don’t have the same respect for the money and where it goes and what they do with it…. Its disposable, like out whole society now… Our grand children/children have g rown up with a respect for “second hand” and every now and then, still show me some bargain they have brought second hand..

  5. Young people today have had it all!! The best of the best and we gave it to them. We not only taught them to expect the best but turn their noses up at second best. And politeness is fast becoming a thing of the past..we reap what we sow. And what will they be teaching their children ?

    2 REPLY
  6. Certainly not dead in my family. My daughter asked me to buy my 2 year old grandson a centain type of scooter for his birthday last month and I was so excited because that is only the second time since he was born that I have been allowed to buy something brand new for him.

  7. Not all young people are like that. My daughter hands down her sons clothes to her sister and her sister gratefully receives it. Children grow so fast. I even gave my daughter 3 good dresses I had kept from when she was a little girl and her dUghter loves them.

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