Fashion Factory: A Look At Sims 2 Abandonware

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Fashion Factory: A Look At Sims 2 Abandonware
Learn all about Fashion Factory for the Sims 2, the 2007 modding program that let you generate custom outfits for your Sims. Was it a hidden gem or a dud?

Introduction

Some pieces of software get lost to the ages due to technical errors, disasters, lax backup systems. Others disappear because the quality of the product was so poor that there was little reason to preserve it.

Fashion Factory for The Sims 2 is in the latter category.

A software so obscure, the only place I was able to get it was a backup on Archive.org, where it has only been viewed 508 times as of 28 Jan 2022.

Today we are going to look at this software, to reflect on where this software succeeded and failed in it’s mission to make Sims 2 custom content easier to produce.

What Is Fashion Factory?

In a nutshell, Fashion Factory is a program where you can make custom clothing for your Sims 2 characters. It was released in the US on 14 September 2007.

What’s notable about this date is that The Sims 2 full game released in the US in 14 September 2004. Three years later to the day. And by this point, the custom content community was already thriving. ModTheSims, one of the most well known Sims 2 CC websites, had been running since 2000, and in the forums, people already thought this software was outdated and redundant.

moreover... after years of modding and tutorials and new programs developed to create CCs, it seems to me a bit late for EA Games to think to it by itself

The above video shows some very sped-up footage of the program. Uploaded by Willem Minnema on YouTube on 28 Nov 2007.

Who Made Fashion Factory?

The version of Fashion Factory that I was able to get my hands on, the French version, was released by GedonSoft. They seem to offer software solutions involving image recognition, 3D technology, and even aerospace technology. Despite these impressive credentials, when you of to their Products page, the only named products are the ones they developed for The Sims 2:

  • Face Factory
  • Fashion Factory
  • Living Factory – relating to making furniture
  • Styling Factory – a hair studio
 
 

The programs claim to be ‘sold successfully across Europe’. And that is very evident in the fact that most of the box art I’ve seen for Fashion Factory has been in French, German or Swedish.

This Amazon listing for the English verison, however, has the publisher Focus Multimedia. And here’s a fun bit of commuity trivia: in 2021, Focus Multimedia was acquired by Fandom, who are known for their wiki-style webpages, and were formerly called Wikia. I was using the site back when it was Wikia. In fact, I made THE The Urbz wikia page, which I’ve not maintained in a long time… but I digress!

 

The aforementioned Amazon listing pegs the release date for Fashion Factory as 14 September 2007

Cover Art

Here’s the cover art for the French version of Fashion Factory.

Les Sims 2 Fashion Factory Expansion French Version Windows - Cover 2

This ‘Orange Version’ appears to have been the most popular cover for the game. It was also used for 2 English version covers.

s-l1600
Source: Archive.org
sims2-fashion-factory-english-shiny-front
Source: Archive.org

The ‘Sparkly’ version with the blue banner is also used for the German release of this program.

Despite the similarity of the front covers, the back covers of these two English versions are fairly different.

sims2-fashion-factory-s2-backcover

Transcript

Fashion Factory for The Sims 2
Choose
Pick an outfit from the dozens available. Will your Sim be partying hard, visiting friends, spending hard earned Simoleons, or settling down in front of the TV? There’s something in the Fashion Factory for every occasion!
Customise
Once you’ve chosen the type of outfit, you can change the style, colour, and even the weave of the fabric. Want your Sim to have rainbow coloured stockings? Tartan pyjamas? No problem! You can even import your own photographs and apply your own personal style to your Sims.

Play – Finishing creating the perfect style? Now share it with the world! Export the outfit directly to The Sims 2 or save it as a file that you can share with your friends and family. Now you can go back and do it all again. Create an entire family of Sims that have the benefit of your expert fashion sense!

*Disclaimer: This product is neither endorsed nor supported by Maxis or Electronic Arts in any way. This program requires that you already have The Sims 2 installed on your PC.

Transcript from Amazon.co.uk https://www.amazon.co.uk/Face-Fashion-Factory-Double-Add/dp/B000VE7T8Q

sims2-fashion-factory-english-shiny-backcover

Transcript

Fashion Factory
Create your own fashion for probably the most successful game ever!!
(aside: I love the lack of confidence in that line)

Fashion Factory is a new un-official Tool for the Sims 2* which offers multiple opportunities to create fashion, clothes and accessories for your SIMS 2* characters and is simple and easy to use.

Take your creativity and design new clothes and a mass of other trendy items to enhance your SIMS characters and become trendsetters – will your SIMS* be “haute couture”?


  • 3D dressing room
  • Import / Export of objects or clothing
  • Create Packages
  • Use Fashion Factory patterns or create own patterns
  • Load and modify own photos for new textures and patterns
  • Multiple cutting and sewing options to tailor your own fashion

I am eager to find out if all the claims on this box art are correct. Can you really have different cut options for clothing? Is there really a ‘mass of other trendy items’?

Let’s find out!

Installing Fashion Factory

I downloaded the .ISO file from Archive.org and installed it. Even though it was in French, it was easy enough to do. I used Google Lens for when I needed a speedy translation. By default, it will install to C/ProgramFiles(x86)/GedonSoft/FashionFactory

Then, I loaded the program. It loaded VERY fast. The splash screen, showing the words Fashion Factory, was only on screen for a few milliseconds before the program loaded.

Here is the screen that greeted me:

sims2-fashion-factory-initial-screen

We are in some kind of room with a spinning globe. None of the buttons in the UI are clickable, except the Exit button (Yellow X). Was there something going wrong? Was the program broken? I though so, trying to do troubleshooting.

But then I found the user manual in the install directory, translated it, and found that nothing was going wrong. I was in the mall, and I needed to use my arrow keys to move around.

sims2-fashion-factory-moving-into-teen-section

Navigation

Moving around in standard speed is very slow. Doing a 360 rotation takes 10 seconds. The manual reveals you can hold Shift to run. With Shift on, rotating time is reduced to 5.5 seconds. I am very grateful for the shift key, but I don’t think that the average person who doesn’t read a manual will realise they need to hold Shift. After all, this is not a first person shooter, where those controls are expected, this is a Sims modding tool.

Window Management

I also need to mention, for anyone trying to run this in 2024 with a dual-monitor setup, you can’t drag the program to a second monitor.

sims2-fashion-factory-teen-female-clothing-ws

Once I figured out walking, I was greeted with a very empty circular room, with a bunch of mannequins around the edges. These mannequins represent the clothing items you are able to edit. Approach one, and your mouse cursor will change, indicating you can click on it. This puts you in design mode, and you can now start making changes to the outfit.

Add Your Heading Text Here

sims2-fashion-factory-change-stockings-ws

The clothing parts on the top right of the screen – contained in little grey oval buttons – are what you can customise. Not every part appears on every outfit. The parts that can appear for editing are:

  • belt
  • body / dress
  • top
  • jacket
  • bottom
  • shoes
  • necklace
  • gloves
  • tattoo
  • underwear
  • stockings

For each clothing item, you can pick a color/print and a fabric. Again, the ones available will change depending on the clothing item you have selected. Sadly, you can’t Tab or arrow-key through the prints, you have to manually click each one.

There is an impressive number of image assets available. Just for the above dress, there are 209 prints/colours and 53 fabrics. That alone gives the user 11,077 potential combinations. Factor in the accessories, and you’re potentially looking at millions of combinations.

I particularly like the necklaces, they look so cute!

Editing The Fabric

Now for the downside. There is no ‘plain’ fabric option, so every colour or print will be under a strong fabric texture that makes it look dull and indistinct. As you can see in this photo, for the mannequin on the left, the bright blue sky print on the dress is dark and obscured by the fabric texture.

The arrow keys and magnifying glasses in the UI control the position and size of the print on whatever clothing item you currently have selected.

Not every print is seamless so your results will vary on how good a pattern will look when scaled. In the attached photo, the right mannequin’s print has been scaled down by a factor of 1, leading to glaring seam lines.

The third issue is that textures will overlay existing graphic details on the garment. In the above example, the waist sash on the dress is also covered by the assigned texture.

These elements combine to create clothing that does not look particularly professional or good.

Fabric Displays

In the hallways between rooms, you will also find these shelves of fabric, each accompanied by the symbol for an outfit part.

Only the two boxes in the middle are clickable. The one on the left will open a file browser, where you can select image files in jpg, png, tif and bmp formats.

After I selected a photo off my computer, there is no confirmation dialog to indicate what I have just done. The fabric importing process does work, which I confirmed by checking the mannequins. However, if you want a fabric to be available on ALL outfit parts, you have to do this import process on EVERY fabric stand. 11 stands. Factoring in the slow movement speed in game, this would take AGES.

The button on the right attempts to take me to facefactory.net. Presumably this was intended to give you additional fabric textures hosted on their website. But now in 2024, it just redirects you to http://www.gedonsoft.de/

Results will vary of how good your photo texture will look. As you can see from this picture of Steve Guttenberg on a skirt, the images can be very distorted by the topography of the garment.

What Ages Can I Customise?

All the age groups available in the Sims 2 are represented in this program: Toddlers, Children, Teen, Adult and Elder. They each have their own ‘department’ in this mall. You will know what department you are in by these big signs in front of, and inside, each room. They display the gender in the top left, and the age in the bottom right via a sequence of silhouettes. From left to right, the silhouettes represent Toddler, Child, Teen, Adult, Elder.

For example this sign has the female symbol, and the 2nd last human symbol filled in red. That means Female Adult clothing.

 

How Many Outfits Are In The Program?

The easiest way to get this info was to look in the Cache folder of the install directory. It has a list of all the meshes – the physical shape file for the clothing – used in the program. Here’s a breakdown of the number of meshes by age and gender.

Male

Elder: 6
Adult: 17
Teen: 7
Child: 5
Toddler: 0

 

Female

Elder: 8
Elder / Adult: 1
Adult: 20
Teen: 9
Child: 5
Toddler: 3

 

Unisex

Elder: 0
Adult: 0
Teen: 0
Child: 2
Toddler: 3

 

Importing To The Sims 2

Once you finish editing an outfit, you have two options for importation. One, represented by a button with a joystick on it, will import your clothes directly into your Sims 2 game. However, after clicking this button, I didn’t see any content appear in my Sims 2 directory – not in Downloads, not in SavedSims.

The second button, which shows a floppy disk and the letter B, will create a *.sims2pack file, which you can share with others, or use to install the content to your own game.

Bugs in the Program

There are two big bugs that stand out in this game.

The first is in navigating the mall. Often, your forward arrow just won’t work. It feels like there’s a lot of invisible walls in the world that block your path, so moving around often involves a zig-zag motion to try to find a gap in the invisible wall.

The second bug is in editing your outfits. When youre in the design mode, the mannequin will spin. This is good for getting an overview of your outfit, but not good when you just want to see the front of the outfit. I clicked the mannequin again, hoping that would stop the spinning. But instead, it puts it in a kind of glitched mode where you can still make selections, but the mannequin won’t update appearance, until you select something outside the mannequin, like the wall, and then select the mannequin again.

My Final Opinion

I was glad to investigate this software, just because I love the Sims, I love modding the Sims, and I love discovering tools that make the modding proces easier.

This software is a fail in many respects – the mall navigation is slow and unintuitive, the textures look muddy, and the importation process is bugged. But I have to take into consideration, that this software isn’t really designed for me, an artist who already had intimate knowledge of how to achieve better results in Photoshop. This is for people who don’t use graphic design software. It will give these people a relatively simple process to add new clothes to the game. If you were a kid who wasn’t allowed to use the internet to download custom content, this could really help you fulfil your need for more content.

The software has it’s place, but it could have been done better.

Conclusion

Do you have any memories of using this software when it came out? Were you able to make any outfits of interest? Leave a comment below and share your experience! Also, let me know if you’d like to see a breakdown about any of the other Sims modding programs that this company produced.

Peace, love & sunshine,

Jessica

   Amber