Lab seeks to make buying clothes that fit easier … sort-of

secondlifeThe Commerce team have issued a blog post and Knowledge Base article aimed at helping people ensure the clothes they buy will actually fit their avatar.

I’ll be honest and admit that I hadn’t realised that there was a particular issue with clothing that needed any clarification; but I’m also biased in that I’ve been around SL long enough and reporting on it, that understanding the various clothing types doesn’t actually present me with a problem. However, I can understand a new arrival being confused by terms such as “system clothing” or “clothing layers”, and “mesh clothing”, “fitted mesh clothing”, “rigged mesh clothing” and so on, and wondering what the heck it is all about and where the differences lie.

The blog post is aimed at content creators, and is intended to encourage them to define the clothing they produce in terms of three avatar types, and to label their clothing accordingly with icons.

However, to get a clearer understanding of what is being proposed, it is perhaps best to refer to the Knowledge Base article, which provides far more comprehensive information.

Essentially, it has been decided that clothing should be defined in terms of avatar categories. These are defined by the Lab as:

  • Classic – Classic avatars are the original default Second Life avatars.  They have a modifiable humanoid shape, and can wear clothing in the form of textures and attachments added to that shape. Most of a classic avatar’s appearance and clothing can be modified by pressing the Appearance button in the Second Life Viewer, but cannot take advantage of newer graphical features such as normal and specular maps.
  • Standard mesh – A standard mesh avatar is a classic avatar that is wearing a rigged mesh attachment, usually a full-body avatar, and whose classic body is hidden by a full body alpha mask.  It is classified as “standard” if it was created using the standard fitted mesh model available on the Second Life wiki.
  • Custom/branded – A custom avatar is a classic avatar that is hidden by a full body alpha mask and is wearing a customized rigged mesh attachment or attachments that otherwise replace the classic avatar body.  These avatars can come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and each model typically requires clothing specifically designed to work with such an avatar.

Hints to help a consumer determine what category of avatar they are using are also provided,

In addition, the Lab is asking that creators define their clothing as one of four types in order to indicate which categories of avatar it is most likely to be compatible with:

  • Classic only – The “layer-based” textured clothing applied directly to classic avatars.  This clothing type only displays properly on classic avatars and is rendered completely invisible by the alpha mask worn by most mesh avatars.
  • Mesh only – An attachment that is designed to appear as clothing on a standard mesh avatar.  It may appear to be a layer-based texture, but does not work properly on classic avatars.  Mesh only clothing must be created outside Second Life in a 3D modeling tool.
  • Classic/Mesh – Attachments primarily designed for standard mesh avatars that can be made to work on a classic avatar.  In order to be classified as classic/mesh, the clothing must include an appropriate alpha mask designed to hide the affected parts of a classic avatar.
  • Branded – A catch-all term meant to encompass the many possible custom avatar designs.  Such avatars can typically only wear clothing specifically designed for that specific avatar; therefore each custom designed avatar and its compatible clothing may be considered a “brand”.  Likewise, clothing designed for a custom avatar shape should not be expected to work properly with classic or standard mesh avatars, or even other custom avatars.

In order to help shoppers find clothing that properly fits their avatars, Merchants are additionally being asked to use one of two label images to use when advertising their clothes, and to update any clothing they have listed on the SL Marketplace so that it is defined by one of the three avatar categories (so that it is defined as being compatible with Classic Avatars or Mesh Avatars or, in the case of a specific custom avatar, it is defined by the avatar’s brand name.

The two logos the Lab are requesting content creators use to denote their clothing are:

images ©
images ©

Note these are copyrighted stock images, requiring the use of the label, “©” with each.

Further details can be obtained directly from the Knowledge Base article, which also includes notes on why custom avatar types should ideally have a unique brand associated with them.

The new definitions do appear be to perhaps as confusing as the current terminology (“system”, “fitted mesh”, etc.), as such it will be interesting to see the response to this proposal / request, and how well things work in practice.

13 thoughts on “Lab seeks to make buying clothes that fit easier … sort-of

  1. Honestly, i think the comers team probably have a lot more important things to do than encouraging creators to use copyrighted icons. I already use logos to specify wether mesh, material mapped and other features. I can’t see this making it any easier for people to really know wether something will fit their avatar. The best way ALWAYS is to supply a FREE demo for the users to try on and see wether it fits for them.


    1. Especially since the logos look so similar outside of the wording. Once shrunken I am sure a lot of people will mistake one for the other on first glance as there is nothing much to visually distinguish the non-text parts.


  2. With all the creative people they can draw on they use stock photography from another company that people have to cite every time they use it? I think the new terms will just cause more confusion than anything else. Best if they tell you clothing has a non-fitted mesh or a nonremovable script.


    1. I think the proof of the pudding in the terms will be seen in a few months when we see if those terms are being widely adopted or not.

      As for the logos, personally I think they should have ran a competition for someone to design them, although I do seem to recall an issue along these lines in the past when it did not end well.


  3. This was a confusing Linden blog . I get the classic and the brand but the mesh made outside SL — the custom is made outside SL also , no? The middle two choices — very confusing. Will it fit is all anyone wants to know.

    How much will LL make on the upload fees of Barbie and Ken’s dad? Really insulting they used a “store bought” set of ho-hum images.

    Nice idea but bad execution.


    1. Yes… I read the blog post and ended up with a large “?” The Knowledge Base article makes the avatar definitions more understandable, but then seems to tie itself in a knot with the clothing types.


  4. Very confusing, indeed, and suggests that Jeremy isn’t very familiar with the subject. So a “classic” avatar is one that’s not using any alpha layers, and “standard mesh” and “custom/branded” are BOTH using “full body alpha masks”? I wear mesh clothing all the time, but of course (and I’m sure my experience mirrors that of most others) I wear an alpha mask that’s just under the mesh item I’m wearing. So … what am I?

    Loki’s right — all that merchants really need to do is provide demos.

    Also, I agree with Kara on those icons — they’re hideously ugly.

    As far as updating the Marketplace goes, that’s quite a request for larger merchants. I manage a brand with more than 1,000 outfits on sale, and given the speed at which the Marketplace moves for editing (read: glacial) that’s an unreasonable assumption.

    And P.S. to Jeremy: Telling female avatars to determine their avatar type by wearing Boy Next Door — uh, no.


  5. This move was unnecessary and it really doesn’t help the designers and the consumers at all. Here are the reasons:

    First of all, why did LL have to resort to using stock imagery from Deposit Photos (or from any other such company), and why should the creators have to cite that stock content creator? They could very easily do this work in-house by creating two or three very simple icons that could very well be mere text. Wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes in Photoshop. And I’m with Loki on the legibility of the icons provided when these are resized.

    Second, the categorisation is off. There’s no “classic” avatar; Second Life has only one avatar base. A much better categorisation would be as follows:

    1. Clothing layers: This signifies bog-standard clothing layer apparel.
    2. Sculpt-based: What it says on the tin. It would signify sculpt shoes and other attachments, plus the few remaining (and woefully obsolete) sculptie tops (shirts, jackets, dresses) and bottoms (skirts, pants). Remember them?
    3. Unrigged mesh: Again, what it says on the tin.
    4. Rigged mesh – Standard: Rigged mesh for the avatar base we all know and “love”, conforming (OK, your mileage may vary, depending on each designer) to the Standard Sizing.
    5. Rigged mesh – Branded or Rigged mesh – Custom: Rigged mesh attachments (shoes, clothing etc.) made for either the various rigged mesh avatars that are now on offer or for the rigged mesh hands, feet, heads etc.

    What would the requirements for the creators be? Simple: Put the product(s) in the desired category and tell the customers if it’s for, say, Slink feet (medium, barefoot or high) and hands, if it’s for Utilizator Mode’s or Rikugou or whatever. The designers of replacement hands, feet and avatars should be the ones that will provide the icons to denote compatibility with their products.

    Should we need LL-provided icons for categories 1, 2 and 3? I think that’s optional, but it would be nice. And yes, a contest for in-world creators to come up with icons would be a much better solution than the one chosen.

    Just saying.


    1. Well, in fairness, this approach was apparently developed in consultation with some content creators.

      So I’m not sure if something was lost in translation somewhere as a result of the Lab misunderstanding things, or if it was more a case of too many opinions being sought leading to an attempt to address as many views as possible.

      Either way, it did lead me into a “What, wait, pardon?” moment in reading both the blog post (which I decided to ignore) and then the Knowledge Base article.

      The real proof of the idea will be in how readily this idea is taken-up by clothing and attehment designers.


  6. And this whole thing doesn’t address some questions I have about clothes – got a mesh sweater — need to wear something under it – got another mesh item and the alphas clash . The tee under pops through. System clothes – I could layer – don’t known how to handle this . I’ve bought two items – valueless now.

    LL needs to stop just talking to its pets on new changes. The more shops that close the more income for the pets. HELLO.

    Have a meeting – fine – but to come out with a confusing edict like this before opening it up to the market to discuss … Old school Ebbe — old school.


  7. I’ve shared this with content creators I know and we all agree this makes no sense. I wear mesh attachments/implants so don’t fall into any of these categories. Also, a designer was creating a MP listing today and saw the new avatar categorization and had NO IDEA what it was. So how is this being communicated? I don’t know who they worked with to create this plan, but it wasn’t anyone visiting events or popular hangouts or anyone at all who is using SL on a daily basis.


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