I had my seventh rez-day last month and have been blogging for six and half years, so I think I have a reasonable informed perspective on Second Life® fashion history. It is from that perspective that I think it is worthwhile to recognize the third anniversary of Collabor88 – a fashion even that, to me, is one of the true game changers in SL fashion.
When I began in SL, events were not nearly so integral to fashion marketing as they are now. Of course, there were events. The fashion year was punctuated by a few big annual fundraising fairs and specialty expos for shoes, hair and skin. There were also a few “Fashion Week” extravaganzas of runway shows featuring big season collections from 20 to 30 designers.
For marketing, stores predominantly relied on their groups, announcements in marketing groups like FashCon and gaming their traffic stats to get higher in search by using lucky chairs or camping. I confess I miss the camaraderie of lucky chairs. I can remember standing around for an hour or more waiting for a “C”, teleporting in friends to advance the letters, chatting with others who are waiting and even hanging out after my letter came out to help with finding a “Q” or a “Z” to hit that chair. Folks chatted with each other and friendships formed.
Mostly, we shopped at stores. We had learned the rhythms of our favorite designers. Donna Flora releasing every other week, Truth Thursdays and SN@tch Wednesdays. Digit’s secret sales on Sundays. It was seldom frenetic and only a new shoe from Maitreya, new hair from ETD, or new anything from Lelutka would launch a frenzy of people trying desperately to get into a full sim.
Then along came Designers United – an “inspiration” fair where a small group of designers created items organized to a theme – Vaudeville, Op Art, Narcissus, Jellyfish, Surrealism. It was exciting to see how different people responded to the theme. There’s something fascinating about seeing people start with the same thing, run off on their own and see where they end up. But Designers United is irregular, with the first in 2009 and the fifth in 2013.
The magic of Collabor88 is that it gives us this fascinating exploration of a theme, but institutionalized with a monthly schedule so we know when it’s coming and can plan, anticipate and swoon on schedule. In addition, Collabor88 has a color palette for their theme. This lets you mix and match items from different designers. In many ways, Collabor88 is a game changer. I know there were monthly events before Collabor88, just as others wrote about evolution and natural selection before Darwin, but for me, Collabor88 is the event that changed Second Life shopping.
How long has it been since you browsed at a store in Second Life? I don’t mean dashing in to pick up the bargain of the day that is often conveniently placed at the front door so you don’t even have to go inside, but shopped, wandering the aisles, camping the walls? Really shopped? How long has it been since you went to a multi-designer event organized around a theme? I am willing to bet that you shop more at events than at stores now and that some of you do almost all your shopping at events.
I miss shopping with friends and sometimes Gidge and I will go explore some new store or check out an old one that we have not seen in a while, but I know I do not shop at stores as much as I used to. Of course, Marketplace must take some of the blame for that, but I prefer store shopping to Marketplace shopping and often go to stores after finding an item on marketplace because I want to see the item “out in the wild” so to speak and see other stuff from the designer. Mainly, I want to support the continuing presence of sims – to explore, take pictures at and for shopping. But with events, my store shopping has waned dramatically.
But I think the effect is even more dramatic for designers. There are designers who only release at events. For many, they have so many events they don’t have time for store releases, but more importantly, except for a very few designers – they need the exposure of events to make the sales. They know people are not going to stores so much as going to events where everything is new.
I used to think this was a loss to us, but I am not so sure any more. I think of some old favorites whose businesses have closed because they quit releasing and wonder – if there were events that not only gave them a deadline, but also gave them the germ of inspiration – would they still be with us, still creating? Sometimes it helps to have others depending on you and prodding you to finish on a deadline. Sometimes it helps to have something – even something so nebulous as a word, to spark your creativity, and of course if you have a business, you should use marketing management for this purpose.
There is some subtle magic at Collabor88. There are many other monthly events, but none are so successful or popular. It’s not just that is has a clockwork schedule. Many events do that. It’s not just that it has high quality designers with mad skills. Many events do. It’s not just that there is unifying theme – many events do that, too. In fact, for some events, that is a flaw, producing many similar and too literal interpretations of the theme. I don’t know the exact ingredients in the Collabor88 formula, but I think the mood board produced to help with ideas is part of the recipe. The mood board always has varied items that are different enough to lead in multiple directions. I think, though that is not the main ingredient. I think they are lucky or smart enough in choosing their participants to have designers with confidence in their skills and creativity – confidence enough to wander far afield and think outside the box, so the inspiration is just a seed, not a transplant.
So Happy Third, Collabor88! You have changed Second Life fashion into an event-centric world. While there are gains and losses to that changed, when I look at what has been produced over these last 36 months, the only conclusion can be that Collabor88 has been a good thing for designers and shoppers – perhaps saving the market for in-world shopping, though that’s another topic for another day. Congratulations and I hope you’re going strong 36 months from now.
Store info at Blogging Second Life
Poses: EverGlow with PoseAnywhere
Eye Position: AnyPose Expression HUD (free)
Skin: Glam Affair Artemis Asia 01 – Collabor88
Eyes: [UMEBOSHI] Eon eyes light Green (med)
Slink Avatar Enhancement Hands & Feet
Hair: [INK] Stray hairbase ::Copper Collabor88
[INK] Hair___ZEUS Hair ::Copper Collabor88
Clothing: La Penderie de Nicole:Odyssey dress:Violet/Silver-Fitted Mesh Collabor88
Shoes: ANE Half Lace-up Heels Leather Plum Collabor88
Jewelry: Mandala Artemis White Earrings – Collabor88
(Yummy) Raindrop Chain Necklace – Silver Collabor88
Location: Pinwheels – LEA 26 http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA26/212/209/2780