Sansar Avatar Clothing: Are We Going to See a Repeat of What Happened in Second Life, With Designers Having to Create Separate Versions for Multiple Brands of Mesh Avatar Bodies?

This red ballgown by Nicky Ree Designs is all system layer clothing with a flexiprim skirt, worn on a classic, system avatar with a Catwa Bento mesh head and Slink hands. Bakes on Mesh now allows you to wear this outfit on a fully mesh avatar like Maitreya Lara.

In the early, pre-mesh days of Second Life (before 2011), avatar clothing designers had it pretty easy. All clothing for the classic, system avatars was applied on overlapping layers, with extra prims for features like sleeves and collars and flexiprims to simulate flowing clothing like skirts and cloaks. It was simple, everybody knew how to use it, and best of all, it worked with any combination of avatar body sliders: fat, thin, muscular, short, tall…

When mesh clothing started to make an appearance, around 2011, it was still mostly designed for classic, system avatars. With the addition of an alpha which removed the parts of your body covered by the outfit, it still worked well. Clothing creators pretty much adhered to the agreed-upon five “standard sizes” for classic avatars, which meant that if your avatar was one of these five sizes (i.e. adjusted to fit a specific predefined set of body slider numbers), your clothing pretty much fit you perfectly. A more complicated system, but still fairly easy to understand and use.

However, with the advent of mesh avatar bodies, avatar fashion designers faced a much more daunting task. Clothing makers now had to learn how to rig their outfits for an ever-growing, seemingly endless number of mesh bodies. Even worse, clothing rigged for a specific mesh body might not work with a different mesh body!

Strawberry Singh used to run an annual mesh body parts survey, and the results of the 2018 survey showed the most popular options at that time:

Women’s Mesh Bodies

  • Maitreya Lara
  • Belleza Freya, Isis, and Venus
  • Slink Physique and Hourglass
  • Abar eBody Classic and Curvy
  • Tonic Fine and Curvy
  • Altamura
  • Kemono
  • V-Tech for Maitreya
  • Ocacin Standard and Voluptuous

Men’s Mesh Bodies

  • Belleza Jake
  • Singature Gianni and Geralt
  • Slink Physique
  • EXMACHINA Davide
  • Altamura

That’s a whopping 15 options for women and 6 for men! Most avatar fashion designers decided to deal with this situation by restricting the mesh bodies that they would design for.

In most cases, for women’s clothing, this has meant rigging for only six of the most popular mesh bodies:

  • Maitreya Lara
  • Belleza Freya
  • Belleza Isis
  • Belleza Venus
  • Slink Physique
  • Slink Hourglass

(An increasing number of designers are now also creating clothing to fit the new Legacy avatar by The Mesh Project, in come cases dropping one of the “top Six” mesh bodies listed above to incorporate it.)

Obviously, this situation in Second Life is far from ideal, either for creators or consumers. Newer mesh body creators like Altamura must feel like they’re bashing their head against a brick wall trying to get designers to create clothing specifically for their bodies.

Linden Lab wants to avoid this nightmare in Sansar, by eventually releasing a completely adjustable human(oid) avatar on which all Marvelous-Designer-created clothing will fit. However, at a recent in-world Product Meetup, it was revealed that Marvelous Designer clothing is limited in how much it can be adjusted. For example, while it can be easily scaled (resized), it will not be possible to make just the sleeves of shirts or just the legs of pants longer, for example.

At the moment, we are all in an uncomfortable interim situation with human avatars in Sansar, waiting for the full body deformation capabilities that Linden Lab tells us is coming within the next 4-6 months.

In the meantime, we are already beginning to see some Sansar avatar fashion designers start to make multiple versions of clothing for different popular custom avatars (which are non-adjustable/static), like this Harley Quinn outfit from Daisy Winthorpe:

In addition to a version for the new Avatar 2.0 female body, Daisy has released versions for Fabeeo Breen’s Daphne custom avatar and Cora’s line of Alina custom avatars:

Frankly, until Linden Lab releases the final version of its human avatars with full body deformation features, I am reluctant to buy any clothing from the Sansar Store. There is also going to be a trial-and-error period where we figure out what works and what doesn’t with these upcoming avatars. Hopefully, incorporating Marvelous Designer clothing will still prove to be a satisfactory solution for most people.

Linden Lab is working hard to try and save avatar clothing designers from the problems that have occurred in Second Life with multiple competing brands of mesh bodies. However, it might still happen that we will see the same problems happen all over again in Sansar. Only time will tell. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

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When It’s Time to Let Go of a Dream

The banner of my brand on the Sansar Store (December 2017 to September 2019)

My getting angry over the unexpected drastic changes to the default Sansar female avatar has led me to make two conclusions:

  1. That I need to get a life; and
  2. That I need to let go of a dream onto which I’ve held too tightly for too long.

Part one is obvious to anybody who reads this blog 😉 and, I do assure you, I have made valiant, continued efforts to have a real life outside of virtual reality and virtual worlds! But part two is something I only realized today, after some quiet thought over my lunch break.

There is a category of my blog called Adventures in Virtual Fashion Design, where I posted about my learning how to use Marvelous Designer to create avatar clothing in Sansar, and where I shared my dream: to become a virtual fashion designer and own and run my own store, my own brand, and be able to make a little side income to supplement my pension when I retire. A creative outlet. A hobby. Maybe even a tiny fashion empire like those I had seen people build in Second Life!

Today, I realized that one of the reasons I got so upset over the changes to the default female avatar in Sansar is that it would mean that I would need to remake all the clothing that I had already created and put up for sale in my store on the Sansar Store. And frankly, it has been so long since I taught myself how to do all that work in Marvelous Designer, that I’d forgotten almost all of it, and would need to start all over again.

You need to keep working on a skill to strengthen it, and I had let that particular set of skills wither, as I worked on my paying job during the work week, and as I worked on this blog and the Metaverse Newscast in the evenings and on weekends. And I discovered that I was good at those things! Perhaps better at those things, than I would be if I were to take up avatar fashion design again (although of course you never know).

So, reluctantly, I will shutting down my store today, and taking all my avatar clothing items off the market, except for one. I don’t want to offer clothing items that were designed for avatars that no longer exist, and I don’t want people to have to fuss and fiddle with my clothing to make it fit Avatar 2.0 avatars. So it’s all coming down. I did get a small thrill every time I sold an item, though, and every time I saw someone in-world wearing a T-shirt or a dress I made!

I don’t know when I will be able to resume work on this project. I might wait until Linden Lab finalizes the body morphing on the current Sansar avatars, which is supposed to happen within the next four to six months, according to Landon Linden. Or I might wait until I take full retirement from my paying job and I have more time. We’ll see.

But I do know that it’s time for me to let go of my dream, as least for now.

Image from this blogpost

A Look Back Through Vanity Fair’s Sansar Lookbook

Linden Lab is working on the next version of the default human avatar in Sansar, dubbed Avatar 2.0, which should arrive sometime in August or September 2019. Unfortunately, first-edition avatars will be discontinued, and any items rigged for them (such as clothing, shoes, and hair) will break and not be useable by the next-generation avatars. However, clothing made using Marvelous Designer should still work with Avatar 2.0 avatars.

Here’s a FAQ by Linden Lab explaining all the upcoming changes in more detail, as well as an official blogpost. Inara Pey has also blogged extensively about Avatar 2.0 here, here, here and here.

So, I decided to go through all 45 of Sansar supermodel Vanity Fair’s saved outfits and take some pictures, since it is possible that I might never be able to use some of these items again. (Some vendors will endeavour to provide re-rigged items when Avatar 2.0 comes out.)

You might notice a particularly busty bovine in the mix! That particular avatar was purchased mere days before the creator was banned from Sansar, so it is truly a limited edition, which sadly will not survive the move to Avatar 2.0!

You can click on any thumbnail to pull up a full-size image in this gallery.