In 1943, a psychologist by the name of Abraham Maslow put forward a report which outlined the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. Now, to cut a very long story short, this hierarchy states that people – you and me – are motivated by five basic categories of needs:
- Physiological (physical things we need in order to live, for example air, water, and food)
- Self-actualization (desire to embrace our full potential.
Now, we all know what a hierarchy is. It’s a chain whereby a series of positions or items are put into a priority order, in order to establish what the most important thing is (for example in an office, where the hierarchy starts at the bottom with the office assistant and moves upwards to the company director or CEO position).
In Maslow’s own hierarchy, the foundation of human needs is built on the physiological, then relying on safety, then love, then esteem, and finally self-actualization (not as important, but still a part of our basic needs).
Great… so how does this relate to what WE do here at Purple Feather Tree.
Well, it all comes down to where clothes and accessories fit in on the hierarchy of needs. And the answer is interesting… clothes and accessories fit into EVERY level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Style within the hierarchy
Let’s start at the base of our hierarchy, with Physiological needs. These are the things you need in order to survive and live a normal life, such as food, water, air… and clothes! Yes, you absolutely need clothes to keep you warm and to keep you protected – and that leads nicely into the next level up: Safety.
Choosing the right clothes and the right accessories (for examples hats and coats in the cold, and the right footwear for various surfaces and terrains) is crucial to ensuring our safety, with our choices impacting the operation of our body and our internal protection from illness and injury.
So, you see, we haven’t even got to the personality and styling phase, yet already we are seeing how clothes form such a vital part of basic human needs.
Level three, love, is how we relate to each other and how we communicate who we are on the inside. By choosing a certain style of clothing, you are expressing your beliefs and your preferences; showing those around you where you see yourself fitting in and how. And then we have the next level which considers esteem – our ego and how we feel about where we are and what we are doing. This, again, is where WHAT you choose to wear becomes important, with image tying in with goals and what it is we want to achieve: a great example can be seen in office attire, where someone seeking or holding a position of power is likely to wear some kind of power suit to visually express their status.
And then the final level – the one which sits at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy, and deals with self-expression and the way that we use clothes to truly show who we are at our deepest and most functional level. This is where we add personality to the clothes which serve our ego and which suit the circumstances we are in – for example, a bold and colorful blouse paired with that power suit in the office; or the use of a statement necklace to dress up a standard formal maxi dress.
And so you see, while Maslow may have created his hierarchy of needs to cater to the basic needs of every human on the planet, it does in fact translate into a much narrower industry – that of the importance of image, and how we rely on image and what we wear to meet so many of those basic human needs.