Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Fashion and Pricing

Okay, this has been percolating in my brain for a few days now and so, here goes.

In the first place, I have said many times and will reiterate here that I have tremendous respect for ALL SL Designers. I've tried making something as simple as a plain bra top and found it to be much more difficult than you might think and I wasn't trying to add prim attachments, shadows or any other little beauties to the top. Just a plain old top. So, I know it's a hella lot harder to do than most of us realize and I'm quite happy to hand over my Lindens for something beautiful. I'm happy to the tune of nearly 30K items just since June 07.

So, my commentary is not about having the money or not having the money. It's not about me saying to myself, I can do it better because believe me I know I can't.

And certainly as a budding builder, I recognize clearly the right of every content creator to set their own prices and to perhaps as they become more skilled RAISE their pricing to reflect that higher quality.

All that being said as a kind of disclaimer:

In the first place, without meaning to offend any of my fellow bloggers, reviewers, models, purchasers and so on, I think that a reality check is in order when we're talking about Haute Couture that exists ONLY as pixels, ONLY as textures on a mesh, ONLY as prims within a virtual world. It isn't earth shattering no matter how much we may think it is. Seriously now.

For that matter, I frequently think what is called Haute Couture in the real world is ludicrous too! And if I was the richest woman in America, I still wouldn't buy some of it. Sometimes buying something just for the sake of having it, in my case at least, is not enough.

Good for you if you happen to have a large disposable income to spend on whatever you please inworld or out. I'm sincerely happy for you!

I suspect that there are more people in Second Life with modest incomes than there are with higher ones, however. Yet, I find that lately, Second Life has begun to mirror Real Life in that money and expensive consumer goods is believed to convey some sort of special aura on the person lucky enough to have, own and afford them. It's becoming less about quality and more about the Name on the back pocket, less about beauty and more about the almighty Linden.

I look for value for my money and to be perfectly honest, I don't care if 20 people or 200 people or 2000 people own the same exact item as I do. We live in a world populated by millions of people, I certainly don't think I'm the only one to have discovered virtually anything here. If price is supposed to make something limited, why not just make it limited to begin with to the tune of only 500 copies or some such. Otherwise, in my opinion, it smacks a little too much of greed and elitism for my taste.

And let's be honest, sometimes price has nothing whatsoever to do with quality. It's just that the Designer, Maker, Content Creator can get people to buy their item for that price because it's new or it's the fashion or some other reason that has nothing to do with the work itself.

If I spend 1000L or over on an item you can bet it's one I genuinely love, will wear as many times as I can get away with and think is of the highest possible quality. It won't be because it's the fad or because someone else thinks I should or because it happens to come with a high price tag and therefore is exclusive. It'll be because I practically want to marry that item. Period.

And for that matter, that's what this blog is about. Things I like, enjoy and think someone else may enjoy too. It's not about what happens to be in fashion or what somebody else tells me is the latest thing. Everything that's the latest thing is already so five minutes ago, you know?

So, if you're a designer who is pricing their items at nearly 1000L or over, please be advised that I, at least, will not be purchasing said item unless I want to marry it.



Samara Barzane said...

Thanks for your rational comments on pricing.

Delilah Karas - Style Schmyle said...

You're very welcome. :)

Genna Gray said...

I'm seeing a bit of backlash against the climbing prices and aspirations for exclusivity among the fashion elite. I guess people have the right to spend their money however they please, but I don't think that paying more means making you and the clothes you bought any better than anyone else except perhaps the noob covered in bad freebie clothing textures. I try to have my own style and be different in my own way. I simply explore different shopping sims and find little treasures in unknown places. And usually those places are very reasonably if not under priced. And as someone mentioned in a recent post in memorial of Ginny Talamasca from Last Call, one thing that really stood out was that they were impeccable designs that almost everybody could afford. Isn't that partly the point of Second Life is to be able to do things you can't normally do in your first?

kristianne matfield said...


Caliah Lyon said...

Well said, I agree completely.

As I'm actually very, very picky and somewhat of a miser (you wouldn't know it but I try to get the most out of my Lindens) I always hesitate to buy things that are over...400. Yes, 400, because 400 can buy me a beautifully crafted outfit at such a place as LC. I will deliberate for ages on whether to buy anything over that price, and it should be deserving of every Linden, because I spend only what I earn in-world.

Certain designers and labels I like, such LC, Shai, Armidi, are arguably already very mainstream and everyone will be wearing them, but the texturing quality is top-notch and I am almost assured that I won't be disappointed with the product. I also wander around keeping an eye out for new and upcoming names (much less so now that I'm a bit busy), but in my opinion, unless they are very very sure of the quality of their product and its niche, a new designer should price their wares reasonably.

Outfits that range from 800-1k and up, unless they're wedding specials or limited editions usually make me raise my eyebrows. For that kind of money the quality should be almost flawless.

End semi-rant :P

Tymmerie Thorne said...

Well said! I truly agree. I am a stickler for seams matching, detailing, good textures - whether they cost $1 or $1000. And I have a long memory - if I get stung when I pay a lot for an item that has issues, I won't return to a designer. While I will not pay for "status" or "names" (I am not a brand whore in RL or SL), I am quite willing to pay plenty if the quality is there.

That is one reason LC is one of my favorite brands - excellent quality, items on many layers, every item could be used separately with other outfits, and you always got a complete head to toe look for the money. And more than reasonable prices, IMHO, for what you get.

Grace Winnfield said...

Arguably there is a niche and a certain demand for limited edition items. Though you may not personally appreciate the concept, plenty of others do appreciate an item being exclusively theirs, or limited to a few. The pricing should be adequate, however of a level to warrant the designer making the effort to create such items. I have a small line of exclusives (4 items to date) that are in quantities of 25 to 100. For me to validate this limited a quantity, for those who would desire it, of course the price will be higher.. along the lines of a custom creation that is exclusive but a tad less. For example I offer a wedding gown with a limited quantity for 2500 L, a far cry less than some designers would charge for an exclusively designed wedding gown ( I have heard of some paying 10000 for such items). I can certainly understand not wishing to purchase an item at a higher price, just for exclusivity, but I also can understand wishing to have an exclusive item. Each person will choose how and where they will spend linden, and as in RL some will pay more for items than others.

Delilah Karas - Style Schmyle said...

Thank you everyone for commenting.

Grace, what you are talking about is a limited edition, an item that is priced higher because few of them will be made - and as you aptly pointed out - to compensate the designer for the effort that will go into them when fewer will be available for sale. I have no issue with that whatsoever.

Small quantities of 25 to 100 (or even 500 as I mentioned in my post) are more than commensurate as I already said.

My issue is with pricing that is (imho) absurdly high, is not for an exclusive or limited edition and the argument *for* that pricing is that it makes it more exclusive.

If the pricing is meant to make it limited or exclusive, why not limit the number available to begin with, as you describe.

Thank you again for your comment.

sachi Vixen said...

A small comment here about pricing and context. Sometimes people will look at a price tag but not take into account that what is included is the work of more than person, there may be jewellery or wings involved and extras like that. Sometimes you have to ask a little more so that making those special items that complete the oufit are worth while for all involved.

I try to price each item on its merits at our store and I always try to have something on offer for those who do have a smaller budget. We have many items 300L and under and plenty of free things people can pick up. This does not mean that any of them are less than some of the more expensive items in any way. I wouldn't put my name on rubbish.

Having said all of that when you have worked for a week solid on costumes with many parts, a few dollars is really not an enormous amount to charge for what are often works of creative art.

Also I think sometimes something is a bit more special when you have saved for it and coveted it, and limited editions always seemed to me like cheating the person who wants to save to achieve that item out of the possibility of doing so. Those limited edition items would all be gone before that person was able to make the party, so to speak.

In dollar terms I actually think thate most items on the grid are quite inexpensive, even those priced more than 1000L. Before I came to SL I played a 3d chat with avatars that were like models (something like textured sculpties of people). You couldn't change their hair or clothes without buying another avatar. An avatar cost $30 USD and they were not often of the quality that SL users have come to expect of the items that they buy. When I first came to SL I was amazed by how cheap it all was for such fabulous things and in many cases even that cute top you ight be wearing with your jeans is a work of art that has taken some hours to perfect.

Great post but I just wanted to offer a slightly different perspective.

Delilah Karas - Style Schmyle said...

I suppose I should have qualified my terms a bit more and so if you're reading, I apologize for that.

I've purchased plenty of items that were higher ticket, especially multi piece items like evening gowns, costumes, or skins, things I can especially think of that often come with a higher price. And that goes from one designer to another too, the mark up is sort of across the board there.

I think the work and craftmanship that goes into such items, I can think, for example of some of Nikky Ree's work, some of Sachi's work and so on that comes in multi parts and are models of detail and beauty. They are as much a pleasure to look at as they are to wear.

Those items are certainly worth the higher price and I have no problem handing over my lindens with no qualm whatsoever.

But taking a closer look, I'm convinced of value for whatever I"m spending in these cases. That's really what it's about.

Unfortunately I'm noticing quite a high mark up on some occasions without that value being there. And that, I find unacceptable.

And, as I've said several times now, pricing does not always equal value. When it does, I'm the first one in line but that's not always the case, sadly.

Anonymous said...

I understand what you're saying. As someone who is a huge shopper in SL, I try very hard to get the best quality for the smallest amount of $L I can spend. It's how I live in my first life as well. Yes, I will drop $500L on a formal gown from a designer that I know and like. But I'll be darned if I'm going to pay $400L for some jeans just because a certain group or a certain blog says that those are the "right" ones to be wearing.

I agree that designers definitely have the right to price their own work and judge the value of their creations by how much time and energy they've put into them. But I think that they also need to consider who they are selling to, and how much they really want to sell. If I find a wonderful store and things are inexpensive, you can bet I'll be dragging 20 people in with me so they can shop as well. But if I'm in a store where it's so expensive I can't even afford the freebies, those 20 people I would have brought with me are now being told NOT to shop there.

More expensive doesn't always equal better, and something being inexpensive doesn't mean that it isn't amazing.