Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Shoe Report Card for Kalnins

Kalnins joined the Second Life shoe game this year, but you wouldn’t know that Maris Kanto was the new kid on the block from the flocks of fashionistas and loyal shoppers over at Kalnins.  After hearing the raves about Kalnins, I went to see for myself and happily added Kalnins to this year’s list.  A recent release from Kalnins, Orchid, is on the chopping block.
I generally prefer a shorter shoe, from heel-to-toe, with a higher heel and a more pronounced arch in the foot.  That being said, I don't think that this shoe was an attempt at a super high, hooker heel or something super delicate.  The design strikes me as an attempt towards a relatively realistic high-heel shoe that you might actually be able to wear without a high risk of breaking your neck.  I like the overall design and find that this is a very versatile design that can be appropriately worn with a casual shirt and jeans as well as outfits that are significantly more formal.  And while the design most definitely holds its own, I feel that it's a bit more heavy, thick, and chunky than I'd like it to be.  This is particularly true with respect to the top of the shoe where the strap that wraps around the ankle of the avatar seems far too thick.
The sculpts used to construct the shoe are excellent overall.  There are a handful of areas on the shoe where the sculpts could have been slightly smoother, but nothing that comes close to discounting the overall look or quality of the shoe.  (In fact, those areas are probably not even visible to people that don't spend their in-world time with someone who makes sculpts for resale when she's not busy looking at her shoes.) 
I think the texturing work from Kalnins is also strong.  I particularly like the appearance of stitching on the straps of the shoes, which is a hallmark of luxury shoes and handbags in the real world.  I would like to see the texture on the straps of these shoes more closely resemble an identifiable natural fiber.  When I look at these shoes I get an overwhelming sense that they're made from nylon or something equally unnatural.  I feel like they might be made of a polished leather, but they seem a bit too glossy for that while being not quite shiny enough to be patent leather.
I would like the sculpted foot, most notably the toes, to appear more delicate with an appropriately shaded texture to make it seem more realistic.  The toes seem slightly long in relation to the foot and there's a gap between the big toe and the second toe that is inexplicably large. 
The invisible prims that surround the shoe are unnecessarily big and bulky.
Color Options (including Nail Polish):
You get a single pair of (copiable) shoes and a HUD that allows you to change various parts of the shoe a number of different colors (Exhibit A.)  That means that for around L$1,000 I get a great pair of shoes that I can pair with almost any outfit of any color.  It just doesn't get any better or more reasonable than that! 
I would like to see future Kalnins shoes with a more realistic toe nail texture and the much sought-after French pedicure option.
Skin Matching Capabilities:
These shoes come with a super smart HUD that makes matching your sculpted feet with your skin a breeze.  The HUD has the standard presets and a complete RGB color scale, but changes the game of sculpted feet significantly.  This HUD actually provides you with an additional window that shows you what color your feet WILL become if you select the corresponding increase or decrease in RGB value (Exhibit B.)  This stroke of genius means that I will be sending all of my friends to Kalnins for shoes with sculpted feet instead of looking at either feet that don't match the legs they belong to or blank stares while I attempt to explain the RGB color scale.
Customer Service:
Maris Kanto is an EFFING GENIUS.  Personally, I don't have the time, inclination or patience to chase freebies around the grid.  I'm also not really interested in watching designers compete against each other to give away the best stuff for L$50 because it's Friday.  And to be quite honest, it boils my blood to wait an extra 10 minutes for your store to rezz because there's a shitload of lag generated by 20 other people that have never been to your store before and won't be back.  But timely sales and financial incentives for your loyal customer base are things I can completely get behind!
If you don't already know, you rack up credit towards your next Kalnins purchase with every purchase you make.  And the amount discounted off of future purchases increases as you spend, so more purchases means deeper discounts off of future purchases.  (Just touch the customer rewards kiosk near the landing point at Kalnins to get a card worth a discount off your next purchase.)  I will always go back to buy at Kalnins.
Oh, and there are demos. :)
Value (Quality/Price):
You get your money's worth at Kalnins!  A solid pair of heels that turn a ton of different colors and match your feet perfectly for around L$1,000 PLUS a discount off your next Kalnins purchase is VALUE.
Overall Score: 52.5/60 or 87.5% = B+


Kilolo Jenkins said...

You know what lady...I like you! MWAH!

Anonymous said...

I second the previous comment. Finally some shoe reviews that are informational and helpful. Keep reporting the shoes and telling it like it is, and keep your integrity, don't sell out to the venture capitalists behind MR. "Stiletto Moody", if you give in make sure you ass rape them financially like they do their customers.