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Monday, May 13, 2013

Hair Issues in Second Life – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting...

Hair is an issue for all avatars. We scratch our heads trying to find the perfect hair for different occasions, often rummaging in our inventories and coming up with nothing that fits the theme. For avatars with recurring hair woes, how do hair designers cater to their needs? How are the seemingly contradicting expectations with regard to style, colors, naturalness, and compatibility with clothes and the social occasion met by designers? I went hair shopping to find out.

Before going blindly about the grid, poking my head in stores, standing on model stands, tweaking prims, and changing colors and outfits, I asked the “Fabulously Free in SL” group about their favorite hair stores. There were many that deserve mention, but Truth, Elikatira (formerly ETD), ChiChickie, BiZaRRe HaiR, and Alli & Ali were mentioned more than once. Truth is most famous for their mesh hair designs, and as I happened to wear Truth hair, I decided to concentrate on some other stores to explore their offering.

Before going shopping, Jocelyn Esharham invited me to her home to discuss hair. In her opinion, the state of the art of hair in SL is excellent, and mesh has brought on a great improvement. "It's kind of a big deal now that it doesn't cut through your shoulders when you move. Long hair was kind of a pipe dream for years." In addition, to Jocelyn, it is important that mesh hair allows for movement in the avatar. She wears, and buys, still quite a lot of prim hair as well. "[Mesh for] shorter hair isn't nearly as important, though." Jocelyn also finds that there is little difference in for instance textures, in favor of either the classic styles or mesh hair: “I think great textures are really more a testament to the ability of the person who textured it.” She conceded that mesh can be a problem for avatars with hats or other attachments, but for her this is not an issue at all.

SLE: "Do you find hair for every occasion in SL, these days?"
Jocelyn: "Pretty much. The beauty of Second Life, of course, is that if it doesn't exist, it's possible to get it one way or another. Either to make it or have it made."
SLE: “Imagine that you are making yourself ready for an occasion and rummage your inventory, need to have the perfect hair right there and then. Is this possible?”
Jocelyn: “Absolutely, if you know where to look. Marketplace can be a hassle because the search terms can be a bit iffy. But if you have an idea what kind of style you're looking for (updo, punk rock kind of thing, etc.) and where to buy those things, it can be done.”
SLE: “Where do you go to shop, and do you get good value for your Lindens there with hair?”
Jocelyn: “Hmm...I shop lots of different places. Elikatira, Burley...sometimes Truth, but it's rare. I think of all the places I get hair, the best value is Chemistry.”
SLE: “What do you value in stores, shopping for hair: selection, styles, ability to get demos, store layout, customer service...?”

Jocelyn: “A nice Marketplace store is a great help, and demos are a must. Free demos.”
Since the Enquirer had equipped me with some research funds, I asked Jocelyn where she would go if she could have her go at hair shopping, and she replied without hesitation: “Burley”.  We quickly materialized at Burley main store, among the barbershop chairs and hair clippings on the floor which I found to be a nice, humorous touch. Jocelyn chose a unisex punk style that we both agreed suits her very well. Since the vendor box was wearable, she was able to unpack the hair in the store, which is a big bonus in her book for any store. The hair she chose came in six colors. “For the price, it's excellent.”

Encouraged with my shopping experience with Jocelyn, I contacted an old friend, Cathy Cyberstar, who often times has complained to me about never finding anything suitable in hair, always going by her trusted Analog Dog hairstyle. “I just find the styles they offer too elaborate and outlandish, and if I relent and buy hair, it looks almost the same I already have had for a long time,” she says. I agreed to take her on tour of some of the stores, after contacting the designers, to see if she could find anyone to solve her hair problem.

We decided to find an “updo” for formal dress use, and found the owner of BiZaRRe HaiR, MyStiCa Matova willing to help in Cathy’s makeover. She said she understands the appeal of mesh hair, but that as a designer, she finds the classical styles to allow more creativity. Some of her styles offer 20 color options, and free hair bases to suit all skin types, to boot! In addition, she offers resizable attachments and embellishments to many of her hairstyles.
Cathy and I made an appointment at BiZaRRe, Cathy arriving in her Analog Dog flexi hair, and I in my newly acquired Truth mesh hair. BiZaRRe is a spacious store, with posters on the wall highlighting the styles. MyStiCa rapidly styled Cathy in her “Classic” updo, with wisps that fall down on her face, making her look ready to hit the cocktail hour on any metropolitan main strip. “I just love what she did with my hair,” exclaimed Cathy, after she had resized the hair and the wisps, with MyStiCa’s help. “Now I feel so much more confident, and the updo is not overblown at all like many others I have seen.”

The state of hair in Second life seems to be in very good shape. With my hair shopping expedition, I became confident that avatars are well taken care of in terms of their hair needs. Hairstyles and colors span the full gamut, and hair can be made resizable and modifiable to accommodate different avatar shapes, skins, looks, and clothing. It seems possible to find hair for every occasion, and not everything has to be mesh. You just need a bit of patience to start with hair, and experience that comes with, not only from you trying out hair by yourself, but also with going hair shopping with your avatar friends. 

Aren’t we all eager to help a girl in her hair need?


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