Second Life Style Report: Looking for SL Flesh in Mesh Clothing

October 7th, 2011  |  Published in Second Life Style, SL Entrepreneur Magazine, SLENTRE.COM Magazine Feature Articles

Petite Avatar in Mesh Dress

by Se7en Wirsing

Having heard rumors about issues with mesh clothing, I decided to investigate for myself. I teleported to Jane, after consulting the Second Life® Showcase. Jane (SLurl) is a well-established purveyor of casual clothing and now has several choices in mesh, including jeans, skirts and dresses.

Being that I am not a typically shaped avatar, only 5’2” and not pencil thin, I had concerns about body bulging out from the clothing. I found the clothing available in fair, luscious, plump and petite sizes. When you purchase an item, you’ll receive all the sizes plus an alpha you’ll need to wear with the clothing to make it display correctly. Two notecards are included in your box, one on mesh clothing and the other on what to do if the clothing doesn’t display properly. The Sack Dress was $200L, a price comparable to a non-mesh dress.

Male avatar with free mesh jeansMen can find a variety of mesh clothing, including business suits, jeans and sweaters in Black Label Meshwear (SLurl). The prices were moderate, but they offered no demos. Perhaps men aren’t as concerned about trying it on, but before I would lay down $499L for a suit, I’d like to see it on myself. Black Label offers a free pair of camo jeans, which come in small and large together in the box.

Charity Steampunk, the CEO of Black Label Meshwear, wrote an excellent description of mesh clothing with suggestions for wearing it correctly. This is given in the store in a notecard. He advises, “One word of caution: Viewer 1.23 can’t “see” mesh OR alpha layers. We suggest you wear some sort of shorts or something so you don’t appear naked to folks using these older viewers.” I wanted to hear more of his views on “meshwear,” a term he coined, so I asked him to explain the differences between mesh and non-mesh clothing.

“Mesh clothing represents a big advancement for SL fashion, but it has its limitations too,” he stated. “SL avatars are made of unevenly sized and distributed polygons. Because of this, ‘system’ clothing distorts a lot, making it difficult to texture well.

“Furthermore,” he explained, “SL illuminates prims and avatars differently. This makes it impossible to perfectly match the colors on system clothing with those of sculpted parts. Sculpted items are also rigid and can’t flex when you move.

“Mesh clothing, on the other hand, can be made with evenly sized and spaced polygons, making it easier to texture well. Mesh clothing is 100% prims, so illumination is even. It also moves with your avatar, making it more natural and realistic.

“The biggest limitation to mesh clothing is that it can’t be resized. Although most designers are including multiple sizes for each design, they don’t always fit every avatar perfectly. High quality mesh designs, however, will fit most avatars well.

He forecasted, “I don’t think mesh will ever eliminate system clothing or sculpties. The future will see more designers using a combination of these different elements, using each where appropriate to create a single, unified hybrid look.”

Avistyle (SLurl) has demos of each of the many male and female mesh fashions, which is particularly important when introducing new types of clothing. I found a fair selection of women’s outfits and dresses at SLC Mainstore (SLurl). At Koko, next door, I encountered a problem with my appearance, in spite of the fact I was wearing the alpha layer with the dress. My body disappeared and didn’t reappear even when I rebaked textures. Could it be the store isn’t in a mesh-enabled sim?

Other stores had small collections, like Hucci (SLurl). It has a size system similar to Jane, but the titles are average, curvy and model.

Mesh bootsIt was very difficult to find mesh shoes. I did find one shop that appeared to be setting up for a mesh shoe line, but had none in the vendors. I finally stumbled upon some sexy mesh boots, which even had a demo at Adam n Eve (SLurl).

From my explorations, I determined the market for mesh clothing, especially menswear and shoes, is wide open. If you have the tools and the expertise to create mesh, with a little creativity you could be in “fat city.”

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