I always tell people that anything you can think of that happens in the real world also takes place in Second Life. Marriage, divorce, armed robbery, political demonstrations, car races, scuba diving, concerts, film screenings, theatrical productions, university classes, weird sexual acts, you name it . . . they’re all happening in Second Life (SL). I was delighted to find out that another real world event has been ported over to the virtual one: Second Life hosts several Fashion Week events, including a big one that will go on at the same time as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City, September 9-16. Last year it was in Bryant Park SL; this year it will be in a custom space (I guess there’s no Lincoln Center in SL).
Retail fashion is a crucial part of the Second Life economy and so it makes perfect sense that some of the more well-respected designers would participate in a virtual version of Fashion Week. It can be pretty hard finding the good stuff in Second Life: I’ve actually started reading the SL fashion magazines such as Second Style, which have the same kinds of imaginative, theme-driven spreads that you see in Vogue or Elle. The big upside is that you don’t have to be rich to purchase SL couture. I have never, ever, looked at an outfit in a real world fashion mag and gone to Barney’s to buy it. But in SL, I have bought complete outfits that I saw in fashion editorial spreads (I certainly wouldn’t mind buying these leggings in the real world).
If you ever have to spend any quality time in Second Life (I’ve had to attend several meetings and conferences in there) then I can guarantee you that you will want to buy some decent clothes for your avatar. But let me warn you right now: this is a deeply addictive activity. I feel the same endorphins firing that I felt when I obsessively dressed (and undressed) Barbie dolls for hours on end as a tween.
And, in order to make your avatar look good in Second Life, you don’t just buy clothes for them. You buy eyes and a higher-end “skin” that looks more appealing than the off-the-shelf virtual flesh that get you get for free when you join. Avatars are becoming more and more life-like, with freckles and glittering eyes and custom animations that make them seem uncannily alive. If you don’t mind crossing the uncanny valley, it’s a very exciting time to check out a virtual world and do a little virtual shopping.