One of the things I like to do in Second Life is to explore. In that, websites like Bitacora-Viajera and Ad Vitam Aeternam are vital to highlighting photogenic sims I consider to be worth visiting. If I find a particularly photogenic sim I like to give other SLN staff members a heads-up on what’s out there (although they’re just as alert at informing me if they find somewhere they think looks great).
A few weeks back, Canary Beck and I were in discussion about ‘niche’ blogging, and it occurred to me that one niche waiting to be filled is bloggers highlighting ‘vintage’ clothing. Come to that, there’s a gap in the market for creating vintage clothes.
Where bloggers are going to get discouraged (by lack of traffic) is that they’re often all blogging on much the same thing. Often, they’re blogging on exactly the same thing, the same dress, the same group gift, the same Fair. It can all look and feel the same.
Early in SLN’s existence we set up a ‘vintage’ page, and occasionally we’ve tried to imagine SL being older than 12 years. We’ve tried to imagine it existing in the 1950s or the 1850s come to that. Yes, these posts have also come from a ‘naturist’ kind of perspective (the movement was hugely popular in the years between the two World Wars). Below is one of the earliest vintage photos we produced, with period hairstyling being used. These bright, gay young things (to slip into the vernacular of the 1930s) would certainly have embraced something like a ‘radical’ nudist lifestyle (it wouldn’t have been called naturism then).
Our ‘Vintage’ page doesn’t see much action, often because there’s not a great deal of ‘vintage’ settings in which to place models, or to reimagine a SL of specific eras. This is a shame. Yes, there are vintage clothes and vintage hairstyles around but, frankly, not enough RP sims in which to utilise them and probably not enough vintage clothes or hair in which to keep the realism levels up.
For me, it seems that there is huge scope to expand the timeframe in which we see SL operating. A masked regency ball? And if certain SL activities are your preference, well there’s every opportunity to slip off to Mi’lady’s chamber after a couple of waltzes around an ornate ballroom. Sometimes it feel as if we’re trapped in sim builder’s lack of imagination as to how they could re-tool and broaden the entire SL experience. The same applies to the bloggers themselves. How many pairs of jeans does an avatar need? How many blogposts about a new pair of jeans can you read?
The decadence of the ‘Cabaret’ (pre-war Germany) experience? The swinging 60s? The dichotomy of perceived Victorian sexual attitudes against what went on in the bedroom? After all, having given birth to her ninth(!) child, the royal physician warned ‘no more. Do you understand what I’m telling you?’ Yes, the Queen replied, no more fun in bed.
Very little of this would broaden the naturist experience in SL. That’s as may be. But we would certainly all benefit, have new SL experiences and possibly even learn a little if there was a much increased range of historical sims, and the clothes and hairstyles that might accompany them. We would also all benefit by a much broader range of ‘ethnic’ sims and clothes and hairstyles. That would broaden our Sl, broaden our SL experience too.
You never know, sims dedicated to Sparta, the Pharaohs, post-revolutionary Russia…all had periods where clothing was out and nudity was in (after the Russian Revolution there was a movement called ‘Down with the shame’ who held mass nude rallies in an effort to ‘dispel bourgeois morality’. And you think Top-Free Equality rallies are a modern invention?)
Where we do step outside the ‘norm’, the shopping mall sim experience, the shopping mall purchasing experience, is that it’s only to locations we know of via popular culture. Steampunk sims. Game of Thrones sims. It appears we sometimes need to have these presented to us before we can adopt them to SL. Yet out there we’ve got several thousand years of human endeavour and invention from which we should be creating our Second World, and filling it with clothes, implements, houses, hairstyles of those periods of history.
Certainly, I’m always willing to reimagine ‘the nude’ within SL, hence our ‘Vintage’ page. But even if naturism or ‘the nude’ isn’t your thing, you have to agree that a broader grasp of the historical, in sims, in clothes, in hairstyles, would be a good thing for SL.