In response to the last post: I leveled my first character without the GTN easily enough. The only purple items I had were a couple of random drops. I didn't get ANY implants until level 25. I didn't start acquiring artifact gear until level 50. I don't see the problem.
I had the exact same experience for different reasons. I started seriously playing this game three months after launch and by then the server I was on was a ghost town. So I had no choice but to do every side quest on every planet to get gear and I crafted what I could using my crew skills, but I did not get all my slots filled until about level 30, not to mention the fact that my primary companion was missing implants until level 40.
Further, I have been playing MMOs for more than a decade and regardless of the game, new players have the same "problem" of not being able to purchase low level gear. But in my opinion, it is only a problem because too many players feel they are entitled to stuff they really have no claim to. Hell, the fact is in that decade+ MMO playing and the six or seven MMOs I have played, I think I have bought all of two pieces of gear off of another player through Auction House, GTM, or Bazaar.