Louise Guay: Founding President of My Virtual Model feels that BrandME is a total social shopping virtual identity experience. MVM will soon be redesigning their Website based on BrandME and visual search.
In the very near future, MVM will launch The Face. The user can activate a wizard to put a picture of their face into BrandME. The user will then trace the contour and refine it with Photoshop or a program like the Face wizard.
In January 2008, the user will be able to put facial makeup on and change hair color and hairstyles. The face, hair and makeup features will be launched separately on the Sears site but they will always be part of BrandME on the MVM site.
BrandME will also include a user ID feature to protect the users virtual identity.
MVM currently works with companies like Fidelity, Bank of America. Big corporations are seriously looking at the virtual identity concept because as people are revealing so much personal information and storing it –they need to have the protection, safety and support of big companies.
This user ID feature would contain the users scan, size and the ability to bring it into any stores so that different brands could be mixed and matched. Sears is a very vanguard company that has partnered with MVM on several projects including the BrandME personal platform. Sport companies such as Speedo and Adidas are also very vibrant and dynamic and eager to participate. People can even try the customized T-Shirts that a company like Spreadshirt developed to allow the user to create their own designs. Or perhaps the user can create their own customized chinos and jeans with a company like Archetype or custom garments with OptiTex. The user can store their favorite fashion items in their personal closet. They can post their favorite items on StyleFeeder (a personal bookmaking tool for fashion items).
Doubleclick helps BrandME apply the affiliate program to reward the user. So with DoubleClick, MVM has a revenue model that comparable to a product placement. The brands become advertiser and they pay $5 per 1000 try ons and MVM shares the revenue with the publisher. When the user brings the brand into their personal space MVM will reward them with the affiliate program.
BramdME also has a unique visual search tool – If you are looking for a one piece swimwear, you first select the straps, front, back that you want. Once you are happy, select the color and then search.
In the near future the user will not select from images of styling elements. In the future the user will sketch by placing points directly onto the virtual model. When they get to a point they like it, then they can search. They can search at any moment. The user can then even add texture to the swimwear and they can see what they will look like if they lose weight at any time.
The user can send their model to themselves as well as to fourteen other social sites. BrandME is very eco – friendly, friends can dress up each other virtual avatar models as well as rate them.
Louise inquired if her discussion and visual presentation about MVM’s past, present and future with BrandME matched my expectations. Her presentation was exceptional and went far beyond my expectations. MVM is focused and positioned to achieve their mission to create the standard for the virtual identity.
Louise Guay: Founding President of My Virtual Model explained that MVM is primarily a retailer and brand oriented company, their initial revenue model was selling licenses. Today they are introducing BrandME – I am the Brand and it says everything. BrandME is all about the user because the user driving the show today.
Guay went on to say users always want to create their avatars humanlike and photorealistic when they shop but the discussion at the MCPC 2007 also focused on imagining that people will be able to control their identity which will result in a high security program for the user and the merchant.
Guay easily imagines that people controlling and managing their profiles containing multiple avatars. Sometimes they will use a cartoon avatar when they want to play games or another type of avatar if they want to attend a conference or date in Second Life or other virtual worlds. They will also use their avatar model to shop because they trust the virtual identity program.
I told Louise that I started reading about Brand ME on the MVM site trying to understand the concept. After I joined FaceBook and added BrandME as an application to my FaceBook page, I realized that BrandME was a type of social networking tool/platform.
Guay said that in the near future more and more brands will continually to be added to BrandME and the user will be able to mix and match different brands. BrandME is a kind of a social shopping virtual identity experience that will enable the user to be more mobile with their virtual model.
Maybe in the future the user will be even be able to take their virtual model into Second Life – wherever they want, and also to change it whenever they want. The mobility and the fun parts are most important as well as the ability to hook it to other social networks. Sending it to your friends or clicking and changing the background because that’s fun.
Next Posting: Part IV: Competitive Advantage in the Near Future (BrandME – Personal ID)
In addition to lifestyle, Louise Guay (Founding President of My Virtual Model) feels that it’s also all about simulation, visualization and prediction. MVM quickly saw that they needed to develop a more cost effective workflow process to justify a return on the initial investment because right now it costs $300.00 to create 3D garments from an existing garment. It would be far more cost effective and easier to produce and justify if a 3D asset is created “before” the actual garment was produced instead if after as it primarily is currently created.
Once the real product is created it’s very difficult to justify it – but if you start with 3D at the beginning then you simulate – you visualize – and you anticipate its potential for sales at the collection level, you will effectively reduce costs. You would start by designing and developing your product virtually and then test the market with a virtual collection. Louise said that MVM is doing that right now with the MVM Digital Merchandising Tool (DMT Web™) with Adidas.
The goal is to go from 2D to 3D and then to sell “before” the product is produced. Designers send their drawings online to the Product Manager and she/he creates their collection online. With this type of 3D virtual product development workflow will be easier to take the digital assets and bring them to an online store to sell, because you planned it that way from the beginning….. and viola!! Then you will cut the development time and the cost.
Sometimes it takes a long time to create a product and then people don’t buy it. Developing via a 3D virtual product development workflow can serve as part of the market test and selling process. The company does not have to produce what people don’t rate good or well. This concept can also apply home décor.
Next Posting: Part III: BrandME – A Social Shopping Virtual Identity Experience (SSVIE)
To begin, Louise Guay (Founding President of My Virtual Model) spoke about the MVM company road map as she put it. She explained that My Virtual Model
started at the beginning in the B2C world, at the end of the nineties when it was very hard to shop online because the images were very poor. At that time shoppers could not try garments on. She perceived that customers wanted to see how they would look in the garments and they wanted to know how the garment size would look on their personalized figure. Many in the industry felt that the concept of personalization of the models would not work because they thought that customers only wanted to look at beautiful healthy model images
Louise stated that people are attracted to the MVM concept of image personalization and used the popularity of the reality shows as an example. “People love to see themselves as the center of attention,” she is right about that. People also were attracted to the concept of using the personalized model to lose weight and that represents positive self improvement.
At this point in the company history, retailers such as Sears asked MVM to use their technology the way Hollywood people create their set in 3D. Retailers that were working with MVM thought it would be great to create a showroom and then a planner for people to try on the products before they buy them. Soon afterward MVM extended the fashion products to include home décor which is in line with the MVM mission to create the standard for the virtual identity.
According to Louise, it’s all about lifestyle.
Next Posting: Part II: MVM – 3D Virtual Product Development Workflow
I felt bad that I was not able to attend the entire MCPC 2007- HEC Program from the beginning to the end due to the fact that I was severally limited by available air travel options. Because of this I missed the opening remarks, part of the first panel and the Friday morning guided tour and multimedia presentation at My Virtual Model on “Using Virtual Models of products, Customers, and Identities for Competitive Advantage: An introduction into the latest tools, technologies, and strategies.
I took a chance and contacted Louise Guay: Founding President of My Virtual Model and requested a one-on-one telephone conference with her to ask her more about the BrandME application and the future direction of avatars for mass customization and personalization. She was delightfully gracious and not only answered my initial questions but she linked me to her computer and she presented me with the multimedia presentation that I missed at the conference.
I was very excited about the opportunity I was granted to talk with her, Louise’s presentation on the Avatar Marketing: An Extreme Makeover of the Self panel at the MCPC 2007 was one the main incentives I had for attending the conference as avatars for retail marketing and fashion product development are my current professional area of research interest.
What follows will follow this posting will be a four blog part series of Louise Guay’s presentation to me to explain the BrandME social shopping virtual identity experience and Using Virtual Models of products, Customers, and Identities for Competitive Advantage: An introduction into the latest tools, technologies, and strategies.
Part I: The Roadmap; A Conversation with MVM’s Louise Guay
Part II: MVM – 3D Virtual Product Development Workflow
Part III: BrandME – A Social Shopping Virtual Identity Experience (SSVIE)
Part IV: BrandME in the Near Future
I attended a very special fashion show in Second Life yesterday. The fashions were exquisitely detailed and designed. The model skins were also works of art as well as the aesthetically gracious custom animated poses. The poses were extremely well planned to match the glorious historically inspired outfits.
Here is a link to my Flickr images from the show!
Who is the designer responsible for all of this fashion beauty? It is Shenlei Flasheart (sitting above just before the show started). I had the distinct pleasure to meet Ms. Flasheart several days ago and was delighted to find out she is a Fashion Designer in real life as well. She is also the Director of the Fashion Research Institute, Inc. The Fashion Research Institute owns the Shengri La (5) island complex.
Shenlei is the owner of Prim & Proper on Shengri La. She actively collaborates with fashion designers, artists, scientists, and philosophers. In addition to Prim and Proper, Shengri La also hosts the flagship stores for Silver Rose well as Callipyigian Christensen’s home gallery
According to Vanessa Cardway, one of the narrators of the show yesterday, “Prim & Proper has been presenting fine ladies and men’s wear since November, 2005. It is now the premiere Victorian clothier on the grid, with a deep emphasis placed on accuracy, hand drawn textures, and professionally developed swatches and prints.” As an observer of the show and a professor of textiles I can attest to the accuracy, detailing and professionally developed swatches and prints – the work was flawless and of the highest caliber I have seen thus far in SL!
Venessa stated that Shenlei Flasheart has over 30 years experience as a couture costumer and as a real life fashion designer. Her Sl designs express her love of 19th century fashion. She also said that each “piece is drawn from an extent garment, fashion illustration, or accessory and is period accurate to silhouette, color, and type(s) of material.”
The show itself was filled beyond capacity – hence we had to deal with lag. There were over 80 guests in the sim. The lagging was resolved when some of us (including the models) moved to the stage next door while others remained and used their keyboard keys to view the show – that’s how I managed to take all those Flickr images – good old ALT-CTRL. Slenlei mentioned that she plans to run the show again, but this time it may be invitation only to avoid over crowding on the sim. Send her a IM if you want to attend.
Day wear, evening attire, bridal wear, outerwear, and a range of accessories as well as a men’s wear line are available at Prim & Proper.
Prim & Proper’s flagship store is located in the nature sims of Shengri La. Please make sure to visit – it will be a real treat!
Note: Here I am (above in the red) dancing at Shengri La. Link to some Flickr images.