Glance: Fashion Public Relations Agency

GIA Business of Second Life™ Fashion Question #1: Who are the money-makers of the Second Life™ fashion industry?

Posted in Featured News, MV-SL-Fashion @ 1:22 pm on October 24th, 2011 by Patty Cortes | 680 views


Business of Second Life™ Fashion Question is a new weekly column here on GLANCE International Agency‘s blog. It’s all about sharing ideas and opinions with fellow GLANCE International Agency’s Community Members on the business side of the Second Life™ fashion industry. While geared towards the professionals of the Second Life™ fashion community (models, designers, agencies staff members, fashion stores’ staff members, magazines’ staff members, etc.), everybody is welcome to participate! Each week – every Monday – we’ll come up with a hot SL Fashion business topic – you can even suggest the topics of your choice. Join the fashion discussion and let us know what you think of the current week’s topic in the comments! Your opinion counts.

Have you ever wondered…?

I run GLANCE International Agency since August 2008 along with an awesome group of men and women who each bring their very own unique and valuable skills to the agency. Some of us had a meeting yesterday: Amalia Foxtrot (GIA Head Blogger and GLANCE Magazine Head Stylist), Honey Bender (Faster Pussycat – kickass designer – and GLANCE Magazine stylist), Princess Pierterson (GLANCE Magazine fashion stylist), Trage Cline (GLANCE Model Academy Education Manager), Violet Batriani (GIA Blogger – chic chick!) and me (Patty Cortes.)

Among upcoming projects for the agency, we discussed the latest trends of the SL Fashion industry. We talked about meshes and some said that they love it and others expressed interest in learning how to create them.

In short, it was fun (these ladies just rock and I’m lucky to work with them.)

Something I love about meeting them, is that it always generates interesting discussions. We often realize that while we all are SL Fashion community members and professionals, we do not have the same vision of the SL Fashion industry. It is fascinating to get to know each other better and exchange ideas. And we would love to explore some of these topics further with you.

Indeed, the discussion we had yesterday quickly moved to the money-making side of the SL Fashion industry. One would say SL fashion models make the money; others would say SL fashion designers make the money and some others would say SL fashion agencies make the money. For each point there were valuable arguments – and replies on how they were not so valuable (it was a hot debate, people.)

  • There was a point when the discussion would evoke “famous” models and how they guarantee money to fashion designers, whenever they are promoted through brands, so they supposedly receive money (linden dollars that is) and tons of free gifts in return (worth thousands of linden dollars) – it was the argument of those who believe SL fashion models make the money.
  • An other discussion point was events considered as “huge” by the modeling community, where the events’ organizers were charging to feature designers – it was the argument of those who believe SL fashion agencies make the money.
  • Finally, designers are supposedly hiring “famous” models and “famous” agencies to generate money – it was the argument of those who believe SL fashion designers make the money.

So after yesterday’s meeting, we were wondering what you, as a valuable SL Fashion Community member would say about this. GLANCE International Agency’s Business of Second Life™ Fashion red hot question #1 is…

Who do YOU think really makes big bucks in the SL fashion industry?

What do you think, personally? Your opinion matters to us!

Leave us a comment below on who you think makes money in the SL fashion industry and why you think so.

We look forward to hearing from you!

– Patty

P.S: If you think future posts should evoke a specific topic or if you have any idea on how to make this column the best for you, don’t hesitate to let us know! You can contact me personally anytime (at or via IM and notecards in-SL) or you can leave a comment below so the staff and all community members can connect with you as well.

P.P.S: Thank you for being part of the GLANCE International Agency’s community!

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10 Responses to “GIA Business of Second Life™ Fashion Question #1: Who are the money-makers of the Second Life™ fashion industry?”

  1. This is a tough one and I think its a choice between two. I think the modelling academy’s definitely make money. Having had my own school for a short time, I didn’t charge a great deal, however, whatever I made I put back into the academy.

    I also think that those talented and creative designers make money and from the two they probably make more than the modelling schools. In the 3 years I have worked in the fashion industry, I’ve gotten to know quite a few designers and I know definitely of 4 clothing designers who do make money from it. I think it’s probably the same for the jewelry and shoe designers but maybe not as much as the designers of clothing.

  2. Patty Cortes says:

    Thank you for joining the conversation, Piper!

    It’s great to have you with us.

    So this is one of the points we evoked on Sunday, when some of us would say that agencies make the money (understanding that agencies often – but not always – have an academy department), others would reply that it is not really like making money, since all the money that is generated is reinvested in the academy department of the agency.

    My point was that I seem to hear a lot about “making money” but I don’t seem to hear that much about “making profits.” I like how you come with a background of running a business inSL and you clearly make the difference in your comment. One of the reasons why we started this post is also because the line between both seems to be invisible for many.

    What is your opinion? Do you think the clothing designers you are evoking make profits from the money they earn? Do you think academies make profits from the money they earn?

    I also understand that you do not think that models make money in the industry! Could you develop this point? I’m interested in your opinion on the topic.

    Piper, I’m really glad that you are discussing this topic with us! Thank you very much for taking the time to comment and to share your vision with the community.

    – Patty

  3. Rawly Rousselot says:

    Someone who makes a product for sale will always be the one making the most money because they get paid every time someone buys that product, whether the designer is actively working or not. A designer works once to make a product, but continues to be paid for that work every time someone buys the item. Models and other people only get paid when they are actually working.

    Models in SL are not like RL. As long as changing body shape, skin, and hair is as easy as a few clicks, “models” will always have limited earning potential. Why should a designer pay huge amounts of money for someone to model their clothes when they can just use one of their alts for free? A model may get to keep the clothes they model, especially since most of it is no transfer, but clothes won’t pay the rent on the model’s home.

    When you subtract the money from product sales from the cost of doing business–paying tier on land, advertising, etc., a designer has to have very good sales in order to break even. Most clothing items are not very expensive, and the tier on a sim is the same regardless of what kind of business you have. If you own a sim, which is I think still US$295/mo, or about L$87,500, you are going to have to sell A LOT of $500 products to pay the bill.

    From what I have seen, it is the people who design and sell expensive items (that are in demand), and owners of large estates, who make the most money. They get paid whether they are logged in or not. One estate owner I knew used to complain about everything, except about how much money he was making off his estate–which, when I did some informal math, I estimated to be about US$10k/mo, and that’s NET, as in PROFIT, as in AFTER expenses–and his estate wasn’t even that big, either.

    Due to current worldwide economic conditions, the SLeconomy will continue to struggle. People may get excited about a few L$ being spent here and there, but people just aren’t spending money in SL like they used to several years ago–as evidenced by the huge amount of abandoned land on Mainland sims. Recently, LL even held a sale on new sims. A new sim that costs US$1200 was on sale for $1,000 off–and I think we all know how much LL likes to give discounts.

  4. Patty Cortes says:

    Hey Rawly,

    thank you for your comment, you have many valid and valuable points here!

    I also appreciate that you not only underline why you think designers make the most money but you also add the specific conditions for these profits to be made:

    1. selling “expensive” items
    2. selling items that are in high demand

    This is definitely the basis of some more fashion questions (hint: what do we consider to be “expensive” items in the Second Life(tm) fashion market? And how does one get to know the items that are in demand by the shoppers of the SL fashion market?)

    I also understand your point when you evoke models (even the supposedly “famous” ones) not being the top money-makers of the industry, as some of us suggested on Sunday.

    Thanks for giving your insight into the real estate world as well! It is certainly adding value to the conversation.

    Rawly, your contribution is much appreciated (as always).

    – Patty

  5. As a model in SL, I can verify that it’s not the models who make the profits. Even SL’s so-called top models may make more than the average model but it’s not revenue that keeps coming in on a regular basis. The payment for a model’s image is a one-tme thing as I’ve yet to hear any model making commissions on a product sold which bears that models image to help promote that product. We’re usually given a small fee and/or clothing to keep. If there is such a thing as commisions on vendor ads, please IM me in-world and hook me up please!

    I think it’s safe to say that agencies/academies also don’t benefit quite as well either. If the agency were to put on a show for the designer’s behalf, the agency also receives a one-time fee to cover the cost of producing the show and paying the models in that show. In most instances, once the show is over so is the relationship with the designer until the next show is booked.

    A few examples of ways designers’ create even more profit for themselves is:

    1. Have a “Going Out of Business Sale” one month and then miraculously reopen a new store the following month. We’ve all seen it happen and it’s a wonderful way (scheme)to create revenue. Residents flock to the store to gobble up what they can before the store disappears forever into SLhistory. So they think! I know of 3 designers in particular who, just this past year, did this and one of those 3 had done it before in the past.

    2. Have a contest requiring each contestant purchase their outfit, jewelry, etc. at the designer’s store. So what, you say? Say it’s a monthly contest and every month you get at least 10 hopefuls competing. Depending on the retail cost of your product, that’s a hefty sum in profits every month. The winnings couldn’t even compare to the profits made by the designer.

    You asked who makes the most profit in the SL fashion industry and these are my observations thus far. As in RL, a Second Life designer is in the business to make money so what I’ve mentioned above shouldn’t be taken as a dig. On the contrary, it’s the savvy business owner/designer who takes home the cash cow.

  6. Patty Cortes says:


    thank you so much for your contribution to this discussion! Your message brought me a smile for several reasons:

    – firstly, because of the “going out of business” sale scheme, which as you noted may or may not be perceived as something unethical. It brought me a smile because it made me think of a store depicted in “Zohan” movie (with Adam Sandler), where one of the character says: “Zohan, going out of business is good for business”! Hilarious (the movie).

    – secondly because you say “If there is such a thing as commisions on vendor ads, please IM me in-world and hook me up please!” I haven’t heard of such system! But this is definitely food for thoughts.

    – thirdly because you add an argument to what Rawly said above, on how the business model established in the SL fashion industry appears to reward those who create products more than those who offer services such as models, academies (affiliated or not with agencies) and agencies.

    It is definitely interesting to notice that many hot SL fashion business questions could be raised from your comment: are the SL fashion business schemes you are evoking considered as “ethical” by SL fashion shoppers? Does it really hurt the creators/brands who do it or do people just don’t care much and keep shopping the same brand anyway? And are these techniques generating profits? (monthly photo contests requiring participants to purchase items from the store, going out of business sales while clearly opening or reopening regularly, etc.)

    We can certainly call these techniques “business savvy”. As I pointed above it leads to the question of ethic. In a virtual world where people can change their brand and their name (as the creators of the products) in a matter of minutes – do we really have means to be savvy shoppers?

    Thank you as well for giving your opinion from a model’s standpoint. It is eye-opening.

    So… designers under specific conditions seem to be perceived as those who are the top money-makers of the SL fashion industry.

    It would be interesting to read what a fashion designer has to say about this.

    Your opinion is precious to us, Linda. Thank you for sharing!

    – Patty

  7. sophiekittycat says:

    Who gain money in fashion industry in sl ?
    I am tempted to say noone.
    First i want to appologize for my english , it is not my language.
    I am model, fashion agency and academy coowner and creator of clothes.
    Models dont gain monney really 1 contract by month or each two months will not make you be able to pay your rent, being model it is more wanting to be part of a team and to create something. At least it is how me i see it. Our agency create fashion shows closer to theater and cabaret than to usual catwalks.
    I dont think an agency gain money , for us a show cost 10 K to do , paying models, dj, textures, building. Perhaps there is agencies that gain monney on shows but if they do just a simple catwalk with nothing around where is the interest ?
    The academies are another problem, so much academies that just learn to people to be dummies on automated catwalks and make you pay a lot to be a robot !!! Yes it is a problem. But honestly i dont call them academies, they are parasits . For me a model have to be part of the creation process, to change of skin yes, but to change of shape no. We have to make dream for all kinf of girls of customers. NOt only anorexic barbies, a show must make dream, not just dummmies doing a catwalk while wearing clothes. If they do monney on this it is that the academy or the fashion agency do the minimum, do nothing.
    The creators ? they pay textures, prims and they pay the rents , most creators i know pay from their pockets even famous ones. To be famous not means that you do quality , i seen clothes coming from some old, famous shops that could been have drawed and textured by a beginner. But else perhaps 10 creators in whole sl , most creators pay from their pocket.
    The textures creators? The prims creators? The one noone talk about. yes they are expensives but they dont sell so much and to be know you need to have a land to be ina group, this means paying a rent.
    The rent , this is the problem in sl. The monney we let each years in sl can pay a pc or a good part of a pc.
    Linden labs is the one that collect the monney of all , creators or just customers, we are all customers of linden lab. The linden as a monney is too costly the lands are too costly . All what we do as creators, as agency , as customers is to pay our tiers, yes some people gain monney but i doubt that they are so much but even most of the fampous creators just think , how i will pay the tiers.
    Nose kiss

  8. Patty Cortes says:

    Hey Sophie,

    this is an interesting read! Mille merci for joining the conversation :)

    Your english is perfectly fine! I have found particularly interesting the fact that you are the first to say straight that nobody in the SL fashion industry is actually making money!

    To explain it further you say that…

    1) Models don’t make money because there are too few opportunities for them to work. You suggest that they are hired on average once a month. and that most are in it and stay in it for the creativity and the team spirit.

    2) Agencies (and academies, independent or not) don’t make money because a demand for quality in events production and education has a (high) price. So in your opinion, unless they sacrifice on quality, they cannot make money. You evoke your own agency that re-invests the L$10,000 fee a designer pays for the coordination of a fashion show between all the staff members (over 5 working background, besides models, if I understand well). To have your opinion as a model, fashion agency and academy co-owner as well as clothing designer is priceless, Sophie (also: you are a busy woman!)

    3) Designers don’t make money because their tier fees is too high. You also evoke that from your experience, designers usually pay for the fashion shows (and the promotion of their brand in general?) out of their pockets.

    Which leads us to your final argument:

    4) Whatever is the amount of money any group of Second Life(tm) Fashion Professionals may be making (models, designers or agencies) – it all goes back to Linden Lab. Because anybody offering commercial services or products, virtual fashion world related or not, are down to having to pay the almighty tier fees. Which would basically make of Linden Lab… the REAL money-makers of the Second Life(tm) fashion industry? Smiles.

    Extremely interesting thoughts!

    One of the most striking points in your comment, is how you insist and make a difference between supposedly “famous” stores and the level of quality they offer (understanding that the definition of quality is personal).

    It is true that we tend to associate intuitively something reknowned with something well-made, should it be a service or a product. Especially in a virtual world where the social aspect is predominant, we assume that services or products only get known after receiving rave reviews… for their quality, that is.

    And there are times when you check out the “famous” services/products and you end up disappointed, in a virtual or in a real world. I definitely like how you point this out.

    My opinion on the matter is that any promotion strategy that one puts in place only leads to more sales if the product is already judged as being good. If people believe the product or the service is not good and has no value, however “famous” is a brand, there will quickly be an other “famous” brand to buy from, which will offer a higher level of quality. Eventually, fly-by-night or long-standing “famous” shops that offer poor to no quality generally end up striving. But then again, do quality shops that cannot gain more visibility make much more money? Tough question (that’s what this topic is all about.)

    Your other interesting point concerns fashion professionals that nobody talked about so far (not even GLANCE International Agency’s Girls!): the Textures Creators and the Prims Creators. You say that while their products can be expensive, they may not sell that much and that in order to gain the recognition that would lead them to increased profits, they would need a shop which means to pay expensive tier fees… Where we go back to the “tier fees cycle” evoked above.

    I really liked your comment, it added a lot to what has been said above.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Sophie.

    – Patty

  9. Ashlee Naome says:

    I’m rather new to SL, and certainly make no claims of expertise. But I tend to agree with sophie. Rent is the only dependable revenue stream. Models and designers are basically fungible. There’s little protection for any fashion-based intellectual property. And agencies are in a fiercely competitive environment.

    If making a money is your aim then fashion is a bad bet … no matter what your particular career choice.

    Hmmm … now that I think on it … that’s true in R/L as well :)

  10. Patty Cortes says:


    your comments are welcome, whatever is your (level of) expertise!

    One more point for Sophie then, who I agree, had many valid points.

    I also appreciate that you outline the issue of intellectual property in a virtual world, which makes the creation and promotion of any fashion-related (and non-fashion related) product risky and a potential waste of time, energy and money for fashion designers. So it’s not all shiny and easy for fashion designers. It’s an other argument for those among us who said fashion designers are not the ones who necessarily make the big bucks.

    You are right to put passion for fashion back in the discussion! The SL Fashion community is a fascinating and caring one which is dear to me since I joined back in 2007.

    Just like you stated, and in a brilliant way, it is just the same with the real life fashion world: striving or thriving for what makes you thrill (fashion in this case.) This is why I believe it is important to evoke altogether topics that can mean so much for our fellow community members (making profits from their passion.)

    As this conversation evolves, I understand that the money-making aspect of SL fashion industry starts with the tier fees. Rawly made it crystal clear in his comment above: after all business overheads paid, you do know if you make money (which means “net” profits) because you are either striving or thriving.

    The reasons why you are still in business… stay in Second Life, though with all the amazing comments generated so far, I’m sure each of us has a better understanding of why the other believes X or Y group of Second Life fashion professionals makes the most money in the Second Life fashion industry.

    A big thank you for taking the time to post your comment Ashlee,

    – Patty

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