King of the Future:
Tomorrow Comes Today…
Developer…and depending on the day of the week?
Not necessarily in that order.
Every so often, I’m fortunate enough to encounter an individual on IMVU who makes the term ‘triple-threat’ look like an understatement and requires a more expansive term to capture the sheer scope of their talent. Every so often, you meet that certain someone who is just about able to do it all. Now, due to the constraints of this article, I won’t be able to discuss it all – but, I will focus specifically on his role as an established clothing developer and trend-setter on IMVU.
I sat down with MRxGQxFUTURISTIKxKG, otherwise known as ‘KG’ and was both surprised and endeared by his admission that IMVU interviews made him “nervous.” One or two questions down the track, however, and a few good songs on the IMVU playlist and any sign of nervousness vanished as the facts unfolded.
KG began developing in 2010 and was inspired to create clothing due to a real life interest in art and a passion for fashion that dates back to 2005. His interest in art primarily extends to sketching, drawing and paint. He formally studied these disciplines while also working as a hair and make-up artist. Almost right away we started to discuss the issue of re-mediation – that of taking one medium and translating it into another - or in this instance, how to bring real life fashion into the virtual realm.
We talked about the possibilities and the limits of art and fashion on IMVU as well as the difficulty in bringing real life art and fashion to the site. He observes one critical differences is that “in real life no one had to teach me how draw. I didn’t have skills in computer graphics when I first arrived. So when I came here I had to study and practice on my own and learn how to transfer my gift to an art program. The possibilities of bringing what you know in real life to IMVU is interesting but a lil’ challenging. For example, you are always constrained by the quality of the mesh and what you make is determined by the shape and the quality of the mesh. You sometimes have to compromise or bend your original idea to suit the mesh that you are working with.”
The ‘art program’ that KG refers to is none other than GIMP (Gnu Intelligent Manipulation Program) which he now loves. But, that was not always the case… He gave an arduous account of initially struggling with GIMP and notes that “…it’s very frustrating when you go from free-hand for everything to a program you know nothing about and you can’t simply do what comes naturally to you. It’s not like putting an image on paper.”
Fortunately for KG (and for IMVU shoppers) he truly started to ‘click’ with GIMP last year after various struggles with making clothing, skins and by his own admission “failing many times.” In fact, his frustration was such that he stopped creating for a year and after prayer, contemplation and a little divine ‘prompting’ he took time, instead, to primarily focus on graphic art. His decision proved to be invaluable. Learning graphics enabled him to understand the mechanics of GIMP and begin applying what he had learnt from creating pictures to creating textures. When he returned to developing clothing he just “opened the program and everything just made sense.”
He also credits the new ‘hd’ or high definition meshes (which are distinct from single form, wrap-around ‘body meshes’) with aiding his progress as a developer since they come in “…front and back pieces which prevents textures from pixelating and helps them retain their quality and clarity.” Always patient, KG took the time to explain the difference between the two different types of meshes in detail and pointed out to me that in the past, single-form, wrap-around meshes tended to pixelate in the bust and bottom area once the meshes started to branch out into the larger sizes. This restricted the developer’s ability to use patterned textures which tended to highlight visible warping. As a result, developers often played it safe and colour blocked and used minimal detail in order to avoid this effect.
But this is no longer the case in the new era of high definition meshes which have traditionally been the domain of men’s clothing. But meshes for the women are catching up…
He also celebrates the fact that the new meshes give clothing a more ‘realistic’ as opposed to a ‘cartoonish’ look. Renowned meshers Narley3DMax (‘Nar’) and Bibirasta (‘Barb’) are both applauded by KG as he feels that their body of work is instrumental in aiding his own. “Honestly if it weren’t for those two meshers my shop wouldn’t be what it is now. Because of them, I can bring more creativity to clothing for women.” Bibirasta, in particular, elicits high praise from him for not only carrying BM, XXL, and XTRA, which remain some of the most popular plus sizes for consumers, but for also boarding the ‘hd’ express in terms of the new meshes.
And for KG?
Size certainly matters. Any visitor to his store will instantly note that he makes a specific effort to represent a range of women starting with slim or medium and going up to XTRA. While he likes sizes that fall outside of the traditional categories he aims to keep his catalogue consistent. He is not, however, adverse to the idea of creating custom content on request and eagerly awaits the day that the new meshes incorporate an even greater diversity of sizes including Figure 8, Toccara and Delilah.
Other than taking great pains to provide a diverse array of sizes, style also matters. Naturally, I had to ask him about his style and the inspiration behind it. KG was more than happy to divulge and spoke at length:
“Well my style is more on the creative side of fashion and tends to be edgy and a lil’ bit wild. That’s why I call my shop FEC or Futuristik Eye Candy.’ My slogan is ‘Go Beyond Swagg. Be Futuristik Eyecandy.” For those of you who already follow FEC Wear (of which he is the founder and owner) and who shop from his IMVU catalogue, the catch-phrase will certainly be a familiar one. But for those who have yet to be acquainted with FEC Wear? “I chose the word ‘Futuristik because it alludes to my brand name in real life and the fact that I like to mix it up and keep it unpredictable. I also use the term ‘eye candy’ because I consciously aim for a style that will get your attention. At the same time? I try to balance the sexiness with some style so that it’s not all ‘out there’. I think you can be tantalising without being over the top. If someone enters a room and you can’t stop staring and talking about that dress or that fit they had on? Then they’re eye candy. A head turner. And that’s what fashion is about for me.”
When I asked if there were any real life designers or trends that inspired him KG simply shook his head. “Honestly, no. I respect all real life designers and I really like watching runway shows but ultimately, I prefer to set trends rather than follow them. Maybe it’s my personality in part (I’m Taurean) but I like to go my own way. I don’t like to follow anyone.” This independence of spirit also extends to his real life endeavours in fashion. Both on IMVU and real life he acknowledges that his work is not the most ‘commercial’ and that he has been advised to try and follow a more commercial path. He was relaxed and somewhat philosophical on the matter.
“Even in fashion design school my teachers told me that when I finish that there are a lot of companies I won’t be able to work for because my style is not commercial enough. I know that the vast majority of buyers are comfortable following commercial trends and wearing commercial looks and that some people are afraid to be different in what they wear. In terms of designing on IMVU, I’ve been similarly advised that my shop would do better if I went more ‘commercial’. But, I feel as if there are enough commercial and trendy designers on here and that they have the market cornered and that style covered.”
He then looked anxious at this point and took pains to clarify and qualify his statement.
“Don’t get me wrong. I love all the work of the creators on IMVU but I just want to bring my style into the mix. I also feel that I need to be different for the shoppers who are looking what my shop has to offer.”
No interview with KG would be complete without talking about his most recent collection which was featured in The Future Forward Fashion show, a timely collaboration between FEC Wear and Zenith which took place in late January and early March. Gold accents, classic and coloured leather, furs and glamourous gowns were meticulously designed by KG for what proved to be his first fashion show and a sumptuous showcase. The excitement of a runway show proved to be irresistible. Or as he states: “It’s one thing to do an ad but when I see the models wear it on the runway and see the effect of how the lighting hits the textures as they walk? It’s so real.” KG has always been interested in featuring his clothes on the runway and attempted to have a show a few years ago but admits to lacking the necessary skill and experience, back then, to bring it to fruition. He sagely admits that: “It wasn’t my time.”
That was then. Fast forward into the future, and the time was ‘now’ for the Future Forward FEC Wear Showcase.
Categories included ‘Femme’, Leather, Winter Wear and concluded with Formal evening wear. Each section proved to be crowd favourites and the latter sections (Winter Wear and Evening wear) were comprised of some of the newest items that are currently available in his ever-growing catalogue. His winter wear dazzled the audience and was richly evocative of the season as it featured a diverse array of soft, bright knits and prints, suede and leather, tasteful fur trim and even a touch of glitter in order to live up to the ‘eyecandy’ manifesto. Furthermore, his most recent work boasts his own original textures created from hand-made brushes. He also stresses the importance of faithfully following seasonal shifts and pays close attention to “role players… their families and their work lives too.”
When asked which outfits stood out for him, he was quick to nominate the chic and Matrix-like “Black Widow” as his favourite outfit overall and his Rihanna-inspired, sheer evening gown as the most difficult design of them all. It was re-done a grand total of eight times before it ‘shined like a diamond.’ Both confident, yet modest KG was quick to credit the cast and crew that helped to put his showcase together. He was gracious in thanking the efforts of Zenith for co-ordinating and organising behind the scenes (and insisted on giving a group shout out!), the dedication and effort of the models, the stylish advertising work of TreVonStylesEsquire, the excellence of developer and room designer MrsNaloniNiXiao in creating a truly unique venue and the virtuoso performance of EmperorBlackKnight3t as the night’s Master of Ceremonies.
Yet, amid all of the ‘thank yous’ two individuals were singled out for special mention….
“I am so honoured to have Cam (Cam3540) working on this show with the styling. It’s like fate. He was a model for the other show I tried that didn’t work out so it means a lot to see him back after all these years and being a part of this one.” He also extended a special word of thanks to KhocolateKhandi, a main partner in Zenith, model and entrepreneur in her own right and a long-time friend and ally. He mused on her influence on and input in his developing and had these heart-felt words to say:
“She is a wonderful supporter of FEC for so many years now. I love her and she is the best person to have on your team. She can promote her ‘lil heart out and she is a show-stopper all by herself. When she was pursuing pageants, she came to me and asked me to make her a gown. I wasn’t sure that I could do it, but I tried. And I’ve been making gowns ever since. She came in my life when I felt like giving up and she gave me that boost. That’s a gift from God to be able to bring light into people’s life when they’re in a dark place. IMVU needs more people like her.”
Needless to say, we talked for hours about the collection, the show and his future plans. Our actual interview ran well over time and I could only include but a portion of it here. But virtual life has its constraints and reality calls. Real life work has to be done. Meals need to be made. But before I headed out I thought I’d get some food for thought from someone who is enjoying the moment, with every confidence that the future is theirs….
“I try to take all the negative and reflect on how I can be better rather dwelling on what others have done or said. Because at the end of the day we can only control what we do. We can either let failure beat us or learn and improve. And I just keep choosing to prove and show that I can do it. I do feel like it’s my time and I’m proud of my work.”
Now I'm here on my new adventure on sl. To bring FEC the company I have worked so hard to build on imvu. Many of my shoppers from imvu have sl accounts. They have been asking for FEC to be here so now we are here Building from the ground up in this large community. Some may not know what imvu is Alot of the creators on sl have came from imvu. I mostly feel at home when I run across a shop of a creator I have known for years on imvu here on sl. I hope to meet many friends this bio is not about fishing game but just a lil about me to know who I am an what my interest are. Ty for reading.