Saturday, February 16, 2008

In Defense of Stiletto Moody Shoes

This is an Opinion. It is only an Opinion. Your Mileage May Vary, Please Drive On.

"Opinion," says Wikipedia, "An opinion is a person's ideas and thoughts towards something. It is an assessment, judgment or evaluation of something. An opinion is not a fact, because opinions are either not falsifiable, or the opinion has not been proven or verified. If it later becomes proven or verified, it is no longer an opinion, but a fact. Accordingly, all information on the web, from a surfer's perspective, is better described as opinion rather than fact."

Comments are welcome, but rudeness will be deleted and since it's my blog, I'll decide what's rude, mkay?

I love to read other people's blogs. I am an avid reader of several, some of which you can see listed on my blog roll to the right. I discovered GogoLita at some point in the last few weeks and I spent some time reading not only the current posts but the previous ones and I stumbled upon one there about Stiletto Moody Shoes. After careful consideration of not only the post but of the comments, I decided I have some things to say about this "issue" if it is an issue.

Before I even talk about the shoes, I want to bring up a few points around the whole argument.

Very few of us, in Second Life, are seeing ONLY brand new never before seen, totally came from the mind of the designer, designs. Photo sourcing is an everyday part of SL, for example. You see it in skins, clothing, hair, shoes, houses, everything. One of the most popular and expensive stores in SL, which shall remain nameless, is exclusively photosourced content.

Let's look at what photosurced means. It means that the creator either bought copyright free photos or found them through google search or some variety of the two, and then pieced the content of those photos together along with perhaps some hand drawing and heavy photoshop work to create a garment in Second Life.

Where did those photos come from? They came from real life. Whatever route they took on the way, they came from real life. And chances are they came from someone's copyrighted work.

99% of gestures, a very popular item in Second Life, are sound clips from songs, movies and tv shows. Do you suppose the people who made those gestures paid a fee to the creators of those songs, moves and tv shows in order to use that copyrighted material? I'm thinking that answer is no.

Furthermore, the idea of knock offs is very prevalent in the real world. Most department stores and certainly lower end stores like Target are carrying copies of copies of copies of that designer item that maybe was on the runway a couple seasons ago. Shoe and handbag designs in particular are usually knocked off almost as a matter of course.

These are a few examples of "copying" a designer's work from real life for use in sl and from real life to other items in real life, and doing so is taken as a matter of course. There are probably dozens more but I'm not willing to dig that hard. Please note, I'm not pointing the finger of blame or guilt or anything like that at anybody when I mention these examples. I'm simply saying, it's okay over here; why should it then not be okay somewhere else?

I know that there's a group of people who say rather loudly, nothing should be copied from real life. I wonder if those people have any photosourced items when they say that.

Then there's a group of people who say, does it really matter? To some extent, I don't think it does, depending largely on my own feelings of how much material harm it may or may not be doing and sense of fair play.

There also seems to be a school of thought in SL that a designer's work must be entirely his or her own work. Well, photosourcing, clearly by definition, is not the designer's own work and yet that's okay. Yes, I know that photosourcing takes a lot of work from the designer, even though I don't really understand it. I'm taking that part on faith.

What about furniture or prefab makers who buy textures from someone else. Surely the item they make is still the item made by them? What about gestures, surely a song clip and chat line from "The Simpsons" is not their own work? Sure, they made the gesture, took the time to make the song clip, but that's not their voice. That's the voice of Lisa Simpson. What about shoe makers who buy shoe parts, or even learned how to make shoes at a class. Does this somehow change the fact they took the time to assemble the parts, texture it, etc?

I am not so sure that I'm convinced that this school of thought, that the designer's work on a sold item should be theirs and only theirs, particularly when so much of what is sold is not really any designer's total work, is correct. Only people who can claim that are hand drawn artists who then make the clothes or furniture or whatever themselves. The number of people who do that, compared to the total number of reputable designers, is fairly small. Hand drawn meaning no photosourcing of any kind.

Now, let's talk about Stiletto Moody shoes.

One of the "complaints" I've seen is that Stiletto didn't make every single prim herself. My response is, so? As I've already shown, lots of things in Second Life are not made exclusively by the person whose name is on it. And how do you even know that the designer who made that dress actually drew it? You don't. Anybody can upload a texture and apply it to a prim. We take that part on faith. I don't really see all that much difference. Another very lovely designer's partner made some sculpties that she then applied to an item she had for sale. What's wrong with that?

That's really all Stiletto has done except she has paid someone, probably very handsomely, to create sculpties for her. Considering that I doubt I could understand the dynamics of sculpties, I might have to do that too. Understanding our limitations is the first step towards greatness, after all. Or at least, that's what my Mom says, lol. Obviously, Stiletto has not tried to hide the fact that someone else made the sculpties when it would be very easy for her to do so. All she would have to do is apply the sculpty map to the prim herself.

Another complaint was that someone didn't get their shoes during the sale. From personal experience, I can tell you that there *was* a problem with a number of the vendors caused by Linden Labs breaking a script protocol. If you wish you can check the Linden Blog for the week prior and find the post concerning the same. I believe the broken script protocol was later repaired. However, if the person or persons who did not receive their shoes, did not bother to follow up with Stiletto and her staff, then that's their fault. That person is the one who knows she didn't get her items. Not the staff. It took me a couple of extra days to get my shoes but I did get them and I don't blame Stiletto and her staff at all for something that was unavoidable. I, however, did not expect anyone to have their mind reading glasses on and followed up assiduously and had the privilege of talking to the scripter involved as well as with other members of the staff. In all, I bought five pair of shoes at the sale and I love all of them.

Yet another complaint was that the shoes bling or they make walk sounds. Okay, people, this complaint is pure and simple bs. The notecard which comes with every pair of shoes specifically tells you how to manage your bling and walk sounds with a simple click on your shoe. The left one I believe. If a buyer doesn't bother to read the notecard, this is not the fault of the designer or her staff. That's that person's laziness. (Incidentally, Zhao shoes uses a similar system only it's the RIGHT shoe)

One more complaint was that some of the designs are reproductions of real world styles. In the first, place get real. Every pointy toed pump in SL is a reproduction of a pointy toed pump in real life. Every sandal, every ankle strap, every sneaker, are reproductions. For that matter, to some extent, every pair of jeans, every halter top, is a reproduction. Why? Cause we make what we know. As someone famous once said, Shakespear I think, "There's nothing new under the sun." Paraphrased heavily, of course.

True, a few of Moody's styles are closer to real world shoes than others. My response is, So? I have boots in SL that look very similar to boots I have in RL. So? In fact many people *Try* to imitate their RL wardrobes in SL by looking for Doc Maarten style shoes or chucks or converse or whatever the thing is they want. I think this complaint is simply something to complain about.

Someone said that all the shoes were just for strippers, and blinging disasters. I don't recall the exact quote but it was along that line. It is true that some of the shoes do look as though they were made for dancers or with dancers in mind. Even the advertising mentions a pole. ;) However, this is not, by any means, the sum total of the styles within the walls of the store and to dismiss a store based on one assumption is pretty hard judgement. The strippery ones were not for me, but I found plenty of others to like.

Someone else said that the shoes don't fit well. I have to say, that when I first put mine on, I was severely disappointed because I thought that too. It turned out, though, that my shoes had not rezzed totally. Once they were rezzed completely they fit fine. I did adjust the ankle strap, according to personal taste but that's it. Otherwise I wear them straight out of the box and if they fit me they will fit anybody with size 0 feet.

Finally, the price. It's true. $900L or $1000L for one pair of shoes is a lot. It's more than I can pay without a sale. It's more than I can justify to myself to pay without a sale. I'm sure there are many of you in that same boat. Judging by the crowd that was at the sale the first day when I and Mr Coolname went, that was the case for many shoppers. And/or, they, like one lovely woman at the sale have a partner in a position to spare no expense for her to be well shod. ;)

There are a few considerations however when one thinks of the price. For one, you have a lifetime right to updates and or replacements for every pair of shoes you buy from Stiletto Moody shoes. That's right, all you have to do is go back to the vendor and click it to get a whole new copy of the pair you bought. This means if your inventory goes nuts, you still have shoes without even having to ask the store. Plus, any time the shoes are updated, you get a new copy. That's some extra service that has to get paid for somehow and to me it's worth the probably extra 150 or so linden I pay above what I'd pay for other sculpty shoes at a sale.

True, I wish Stiletto's shoes were priced closer to 600L than to 1000L but I am willing to wait for a sale to buy them. I think they are pretty, well made, and make me feel special. That's all I ask of any garment.

Incidentally, here's my pink moc croc elegant slingbacks. The designer gave them to me in honor of my buying so many pairs in spite of the difficulties with the vendors. I also bought the red elegant slingbacks that were on valentine special bringing my total up to seven pairs.


Alicia Chenaux said...

You know how I feel about SM shoes already, so I won't give my opinion on them again. :) But in regards to the other bits - I think the reason that people get their feathers ruffled over Stiletto outsourcing the sculpty work is because unlike in RL, where you hardly expect Ralph Lauren to be hovering over a sewing machine stitching his own clothes, we DO expect that creators in SL actually make their own items. Why wouldn't we, when so many do? I also think that maybe there wouldn't be such a ruckus over this if the shoes were more affordably priced. :) Well, and if Stiletto wouldn't keep saying she's the creative thinker behind the designs, when obviously they've been taken from existing RL designs, as shown in Gogo's blog. I don't MIND SL designers making RL pieces, but at least say "Hey, look, RL inspired!!" But honestly, I think all of this has to do with the price more than anything else. If the shoes were cheaper, you wouldn't hear anything but the clack of heels as people stormed the shop constantly. lol

Sidonie said...

Well, but it's kind of the point of some of the stuff in my post. Despite what people think, very few people in SL are "Really" making all new, never before seen, never before conceived, never before drawn content in the first place.

And, I think she did come up with it. It's one thing to see a picture and go, oh, I'd love to have that in SL and another to actually make it happen. I think of her as like the art director, the architect so to speak. She said, I assume, "it should look like this". Somebody had to have the spark and the means to bring it into SL.

Just think about you making furniture. If you were inspired by fancy sofa from a magazine and you asked a friend to help you make one like it in sl. Whose idea was it to make the fancy sofa? Who would be saying, no I don't think that prim looks right or yes, that prim looks great, etc.? Who would be choosing the textures, finding a scripter to create vendors, creating logos and vendors for your fancy sofa? Hypothetically? It would be you right? Cause it was your idea to try to emulate the fancy sofa to begin with. And to you, I think, it would be YOUR fancy sofa.

But as I said already, YMMV, and my post is strictly my opinion.

And yes, I do think the price has something to do with the amount of complaints but I don't see any other shoemaker (or perhaps shoe company is a better word) out there offering to upgrade and/or replace your shoes for as long as you're in sl either.

Meara Deschanel said...

"but I don't see any other shoemaker (or perhaps shoe company is a better word) out there offering to upgrade and/or replace your shoes for as long as you're in sl either."

Quick note on the above comment: SOREAL will replace/upgrade their City Steps sneakers for each customer that has bought a pair, for the duration of the customer's time in SL. Other content-makers (not necessarily "shoemakers") will do the same, ie. the Rendezvous Couple Animator.

Anyway, on to the topic. I was one of the ones that originally expressed dismay that Stiletto was not the sole (no pun intended) content creator behind her shoes, and my initial reaction was to think twice about buying her product again. After reading Stiletto's own response on the matter however, I did some thinking.

I don't mind photosourced work (though I think some of it looks cheap), nor do I mind imitaions/copies of RL styles. My biggest issue is, as Alicia noted, price. For nearly $1000L I expect the product I am buying to be nothing short of spectacular, and it was dismaying to realize that the shoe I wincingly shelled out my Lindens for was, albeit lovely, not original.

I can see the point of charging a higher price to compensate for having outsourced work in order to create a better quality shoe. However, there are other designers that create work of similar or better quality that manage to keep their prices reasonable, regardless of who created the design in the first place. For example Maitreya's latest release, the ChiChi - sculpted, scripted, and all for $400L a pair. To me, that is a more reasonable price, and one I had no problem accomodating.

That said, I made the decision that I wouldn't stop shopping at Stiletto Moody just because I personally disagree with her pricing, and indeed when I found myself in need of a pair of red fetish "f*ck me" pumps for Valentine's Day (that never got used but that is a rant for another blog *shakes fist at her partner*) I marched into Stiletto's store and plunked down $950L for the ones I wanted.

So to sum up, I still think Stiletto prices her shoes higher than I would like, but that's her perogative as a retailer, and I've decided not to let it affect my shopping habits where her store is concerned beyond waiting for her sales and hoping she sees the wisdom of releasing versions of her footwear without all the bling and clicks (because some of us really don't need all that) for a lower price.

Sidonie said...

Hi Meara, thanks very much for your comment. I did not know that about those companies so it's nice to have that information.

I'm not going to defend Stiletto's pricing because I've already said I too think it's too high!

I wish you had joined the group, the red elegant slingback (identical to the pink shown here) was on sale for 40 percent off at the time. But yes, I've firmly told my own significant other and everyone else that I won't be buying them unless they are on sale.

My issue, and the reason for this post though is that I think that a different yardstick has been held up for this company than for other companies which are popular and in some cases have higher prices than their competitors. That doesn't seem fair to me. I'm glad you reconsidered. :)

Meara Deschanel said...

Thanks Sidonie. :)

I actually did buy several pairs during the 40% sale, including the elegant slingbacks. Unfortunately my partner, who I spend most of my SL time with right now, is critical of my shopping habits, so I missed the rest of the sale. I was a member of her group for the longest time, but I had to drop it in favor of joining a different group. *curses the 25 group limit* If I ever have another spot in my group list open up, I'll rejoin. ;)

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