Archive for November, 2009

Threading the Needle:The Future of Fashion Design Conference

November 28, 2009 2 comments

Fashion Research Institute  will be presenting and sponsoring the first virtual world-based fashion design conference in history. It is titled: Threading the Needle: The Future of Fashion Design. This is a free conference for for fashion design students and new designers it will run will run Thursday, December 3rd from 8 am – 5 pm EDT.

Conference speakers include Kerry Bannigan (CEO, Nolcha Fashion Week); Fiona Jenvey (CEO, Mudpie); Beth Harris (Director of Digital Learning, MOMA-NYC); Crosby Noricks (Founder, PR Couture); Suzie Norris-Reeves (FHEA, Head of School, Southampton Solent University); Elaine Polvinen (Professor & Coordinator – Fashion Textile Technology, Buffalo State University); Michiel Thissen  (Founder, Mythos Consultancy); Shenlei Winkler (CEO, Fashion Research Institute); Steven Zucker (Dean of Graduate Studies, FIT).

The conference is free for all attendees – simply create a user account on the ScienceSim grid at Then download the software, and log in. It’s that simple, and both the software and the conference are free. 

You will need to make a simple change to the viewer to ‘point’ it to ScienceSim:

 When you start the Hippo viewer, click on the “Grids” button to select one of the grids. The first time you run Hippo, you will need to click on the “Grids” button. Click on the “Add” button at the top, enter the URL in the Login URI field, then click on the “Get Grid Info” button to fill in the details. If you will be using Hippo exclusively to access the ScienceSim grid, then make sciencesim the default.

Attendees will want to log in a little early and customize their avatars, so they feel comfortable with their avatar representation and with the interface.  There are 45 minute orientation sessions which will be provided on November 19th and 26th from 1-2 pm EDT, and November 29 from 9-10 am EDT.  Experienced mentors will be on hand to guide you through the orientation, which takes about 30 minutes, with 15 minutes to customize your avatar.

For more information, please visit or contact admin @

FRI: Virtual Fashion Internships

November 24, 2009 2 comments
Shineli Winkler, CEO of FRI

[Note: this is a guest post by Shenlei Winkler, CEO of the Fashion Research Institute, Inc., 419 Lafayette, NYC, NY 10013 [ph 646-688-4042] [fx 646-688-4043]

  • Author, Designing Dreams: Best Practices for the Art & Business of Avatar Apparel Design & Development
  • Author, Shengri La Spirit: A Designer’s Perspective of the Making of OpenSim

Fashion Research Institute has been working in virtual worlds for the past few years, exploring them as platforms and tools for use by the $1.7 trillion apparel industry.  We have since developed a design application, Black Dress Design Studio, which is currently in closed alpha. Black Dress shows promise of being a disruptive technology for the industry, as well as a game changer for the way product is developed in both apparel and in the much larger soft consumer goods industries.

As we worked in the virtual world space, our understanding of both the potential power and range of the platform, and our understanding of how to educate fashion designers using virtual world platforms grew and changed.  We knew that understanding how people learn is as critical to our success in bringing our application to market as making sure the application is ‘right’.  With that understanding as a basis, we launched a series of educational programs, which currently include our Shengri La Marketplace program and our student internships.

Both of these programs focus on educating designers and helping them achieve their dreams.  There are critical differences: the Marketplace program is intended to help designers of virtual goods, or ‘virtua’, develop their label in these virtual spaces.  These designers have varying educational backgrounds and they have a burning desire to create within virtual worlds.  Their product is not intended to ever be manufactured in the industrial complex, nor will it be sold through usual apparel industry retail channels.  This product is sold to the users of avatars for some of the same reasons we buy real life apparel – we want to customize our appearance in a way that sends a message to people who see us.  Obviously in a virtual world we don’t need to be concerned about fit or function, nor on manufacturability, which can be very freeing for the creative spirit.  The Marketplace program has a rolling admission deadline.

The internship program, in contrast, is designed to teach fashion student designers how to go through the process of developing a collection from original concept to final runway show.  Using virtual worlds as the platform, we take our interns through a fast-paced development sequence where they learn about both the art and business of design and development. 

Our internships run about sixteen weeks.  In that time the interns are expected to develop marketing concepts for their label, which include logo, showroom, storefront, customer service policies, packaging, and an overall look and feel for their line.  They use these concepts to present their actual collection to the virtual goods marketplace in Second Life.  The interns are expected to create all components of a collection during their internship – we have them create a mood board, color stories, and materials story, which we keep displayed in their workspace for reference. 

The interns are taught to develop product using the in-world content creation tools.  We maintain presence on several grids, and we usually have them prototype their designs on one of our OpenSim grids because there is no cost for developing on our grids.  When they are ready to develop for the marketplace, they develop their product on the Second life platform, package up their outfits, and place them in vendors.  They receive immediate feedback – either their outfits sell, or they don’t!
Our interns are expected to complete one look a week from their original sketches, developed in 3-6 colorways.  Our goal is to help the interns produce a visual ‘story’ for their portfolio that shows they understand how the product development cycle works in the real life apparel industry.  Using these low risk platforms enables us to take our interns through the process at a nominal cost. They are encouraged to explore the full parameter space of their own creativity. 

Our final project with our interns is to help them produce a full virtual runway show with live models presenting their designs to a general audience.  These shows are group shows where the interns collaborate to define their theme, name the show and determine the run order for the models.  The interns are all individually responsible for styling their models and determining makeup, hair, and accessories to complete the look.  They must also select pre-determined poses for their models to strike at the end of the runway.

FRI has a team of dedicated volunteer models who generously offer their time for fittings and the show.  They also provide needed moral support and encouragement.  The FRI team builds the runway and make sure that all of the models are correctly styled.  We also manage the overall show including media and marketing.  In addition, we have an audience of supporters who are gracious enough to come to the shows and demonstrate their support of our student designers by blogging about their work, buying their work, and simply being present and giving these new talents a bit of an ego boost.  

At the end of the runway show, our interns have a chance to be recognized for all of their hard work by taking a bow on the runway.  They depart with valuable experience in the real life development process.  We stop short of pulling physical samples but the design cycle is the same and when the time comes for them to enter the work force, they will recognize the design process because they have already been through it. The educational process is fast-paced and demanding, and we set very high standards for them to reach. 

Virtual Goods Marketplace Trends

We’re particularly excited to be working with our student interns from Buffalo State university because we think the virtual goods marketplace will burgeon rapidly. In 2007, virtual goods accounted for $2.6 billion in sales.  Although the total value of virtual goods pales in comparison to the $1.7 trillion apparel industry, this market compares very favorably with the accessories market which generates about $1.8 billion in sales.  Various analyst reports indicate that the virtual goods marketplace is set to double in 2010.  Fashion designers are often encouraged to move into handbags and other accessories to add a new revenue stream and enable brand extension.  With virtual goods slated to open up further in 2010, designers should definitely consider this new niche market they can readily move into which can help them generate more sales in a completely new area.

Not only is there a business case to be made for providing design for this niche, but designers can also use the low-risk OpenSim platform to explore new design ideas, and to show their work 24/7 on special runways, where models can walk the catwalk at a touch of the button and show off designs as they are meant to be: in 3D and moving.

Virtual/Real Runway 3.0 Project

We are very excited to be working with the talented students designers from Buffalo State University, and we’re very much looking forward to our Spring work with them.  Working virtually, we will be helping them develop the exact same looks to present on our virtual runways as they will be showing in real life in their graduating senior runway show, ‘Runway 3.0’.  Our work with them will extend even outside of our virtual space. We’ll be taking a day to tour them through the fashion district in New York City, the home of fashion.  And finally, we’ll be working with them as technical fashion designers to help them create real world apparel with a decided technical bent: we’re going to help them add motors, lights, and more!

Virtual Intern Applications Being Accepted

We’re accepting new applications for our next internship cycle from Fashion Programs, which begins at the end of January.  Admission is highly selective.  For more information, please visit

Virtual Fashion Internship Follow-Up Questions

November 21, 2009 5 comments

I would like to include a link to the Bella Fantasique blog that Missy started when her virtual fashion brand concept was developed in the summer of 2009. If you would like to visit Missy’s Bella Fantasique store in Second Life to see all the virtual fashion garments she has developed for yourself here is a SLurl to teleport you there. If you do not want to visit in-world yet but would like to see Missy’s fashions here is a link to her fashion products on the XSTREET Marketplace. You can purchase something there and have it delivered in-world to you or to someone else as a virtual gift.

 After  Missy’s SL Virtual Internship Interview ended and I uploaded the podcast, I thought of some additional questions others may have for Missy regarding this entire virtual internship experience. I sent the questions to Missy and her responses are below.

1. Are your Second Life experiences relavant to any of your fashion education classes? If so in what way? 

My Second Life experiences are related to two fashion classes I have taken at Buffalo State college thus far, FTT208:Introduction to Fashion Technologies and FTT308: FashionCAD. Both are fashion CAD classes, using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Once I learned the basics in those two classes, I was able to learn so much more about those programs.
2. Do you feel that the experiences that you are simulating in second life regarding developing a brand and coordinated fashion lines, presenting and merchandising your brand integrates and simulates the knowledge and skills that you are learning in your fashion education classes?

If anything else, Second Life inspires me. I am eager to create and design garments and have the ability to change what I am making with a simple click of a button, instead of having to completely redo a sewn garment. I am faster at finding ways to get things done more efficiently in my fashion classes.
3. Are your fashion design and merchandising related experiences in Second Life providing you with a clearer  picture of what is involved in the real world design and merchandising process? If so how?

Second Life is making having a fashion line real to me. It’s a fast pace enviroment and putting your ideas into Photoshop and Illustrator and then into Second Life virtually shows an image of what my designs would look like on a body, without the cost of materials and sewing time. I like seeing the progression of sketches to actual garments, and it cuts time so much shorter to see it on a virtual body first to make sure everything looks they way I want it. I also have always had a love for marketing and the business side of fashion, and I get to do this in SL by running my store and modeling. So it’s the best of both worlds… literally. [note from e.polvinen: Missy really does mean this literally because the Lindens $L she makes from selling her virtual fashions are easily converted into $US dollars.]
4. Would you recommend a virtual fashion design and merchandising experience to other fashion students?

I absolutely would recommend virtual design to other fashion students because that is where technology is taking us. If we have the programs available, it doesn’t hurt to get familiar with them, in order to make presentations and amazing concept boards. So many things are done now with the computer, so why not make fashion with it too?

From my own experience as a professor teaching fashion students introduction to fashion concepts in Second Life for the last three years, it is an ideal platform for developing unified fashion garment/line /brand concepts,  building presentation skills, organizational skills, fashion terminology, business and marketing skills…and it’s an opportunity to makes real $$$.

Other blog postings related to Missy:

  • Missy’s SL Virtual Internship Interview
  • Missy Lavecchia in Jewels of Winter
  • Missy Lavecchia First Solo Show
  • Bella Fantasique – Midnight Sparkle Collection
  • Missy’s SL Virtual Internship Interview

    November 21, 2009 5 comments


    Missy’s Virtual Fashion Internship

    In this Virtual Fashion Internship podcast I am asking Missy questions regarding the virtual internship PowerPoint she submitted to me upon completion of the project. Missy aka: Missy Lavecchia in Second Life  is one of two Buffalo State Fashion Technology students that completed a virtual internship with Shenlei Winkler aka Shenlei Flasheart from the Fashion Research Institute in the summer of 2009. We are viewing the PowerPoint as we are discussing the internship.

    We have been attempting to schedule this interview since September. After multiple postponements we finally managed to complete it in my campus office last Wednesday. I did not even notice the traffic noise in the background [including an ambulance] until after the interview was completed. We were viewing Missy’s PowerPoint as we discussed her reactions to the entire virtual internship experience.

    You will hear in the interview that she developed a concept board for her brand, a color palette for her collection, presentation  boards and packages as well as a customer service policy. Once her collection was completed she participated in a well attended virtual fashion show titled Fluid with two other interns.

    Other blog postings related to Missy:

  • Virtual Fashion Internship Follow-Up Questions
  • Missy Lavecchia in Jewels of Winter
  • Missy Lavecchia First Solo Show
  • Bella Fantasique – Midnight Sparkle Collection
  • Here is a link to The Fluid Fashion show event that was the culmination of the internships for three fashion students.

    Virtual Fashion Education

    November 21, 2009 Leave a comment

    Buffalo State Fashion in Second Life

    In the spring of 2007 and 2008 I had students participate in a Second Life fashion project that involves developing a series of garments and participating in a virtual fashion show. Here is a link to that 2007 project. We did a similar project in the spring of 2008 but I never had the time to organize and upload it to the Web. The virtual fashion class [link to post below] took place in the fall of 2008 and involved more advanced works in Second Life from students that completed the intro to Second Life class project that I presented in the second half of the FashionCAD class. I have developed an Intro to Second Life for Fashion Learning Module Series that anyone can use.

    You can visit the Buffalo State island in Second Life to see all the student collections. Here is a SURL link to the student exhibit area.  All of their virtual garments are available for free. There is an exhibit remaining from a virtual/real marketing project students did with Sears. Students created replicas of Sears catalog items available free in Second Life and linked to the real item for purchase. The real items are now discontinued so only virtual items are available.

    Part of a real/virtual series developed as part of a virtual fashion project in the fall of 2008. They are located on the Buffalo State island in the fashion exhibit area.

    MueMeu's Fat Cat Tee

    In the student stores that  still remain –  items that are available virtually in Second Life are also linked to real items from the ZAZZLE site.  MeuMeu was a student designer that created a series of virtual tees in her SL store that linked to real ZAZZLE versions of the shirts. Here is a SURL link to teleport you to her store. See video below to illustrate how you would view the real life version from inside SL. Her virtual tee image [right, free in SL] links to her blog posting from the project.

    Some links to previous posts:

    Virtual Fashion Internships

    Yes you are reading the heading correctly, virtual fashion internships are happening in Second Life. How do I know about them? I know about them because two of my fashion students recently completed virtual fashion internships and three students are currently working on a specialized virtual/real world project in Second Life. Who are they working with? They are working on the virtual portion of the project with Shenlei Winkler aka Shenlei Flasheart in Second Life from The Fashion Research Institute. 

    In my next post I will be interviewing Missy, a FashionCAD student that completed a virtual fashion internship in Second Life.

    Shenlei Winkler [Fashion Research Institute in Second Life]

    This all started in the spring of 2009 with students from my FashionCAD class. Last spring I was having a meltdown helping to prepare for the big Runway 2.0 production at Buffalo State college. Shenlei Winkler filled in for me with the FashionCAD students by working virtually with them on the Second Life project. Students signed on to Second Life and met up with Shenlei at the fashion Research institute. Students were teleported to the Fashion Research Institute

    She guided them through various exhibits where they learned how to walk, fly, place items into their inventories, they were able to get skins, accessories, clothing hair, etc. Once they familiarized themselves in Second Life she teleported them up to a special fashion instructional area where all students were provided with a studio/office of their own. You can see a birds-eye view of the studio/office rooms that were created for each student in the images above. Each student was expected to decorate their office/studio room.

    The images above [The instructor] show Shenlei Winkler aka Shenlei Flasheart in Sl gathering the FashionCAD students around her for their lessons in Second Life.  She instructed them during class in the central area and assigned homework.

    There was a  central instructional area and students were posing to be photographed in their new outfits that they created. The Second Life project lasted about 6 weeks and concluded with a fashion Show. Below  is a group photo taken just after the fashion show ended,  Shenlei’s avatar is on the right front wearing a suit.

    Group pose of FashionCAD student and Shenlei Winkler

    Shenlei invited the best students to participate in a virtual internship with her. Missy was one of those selected. In my next post I will interview Missy and we will learn about her virtual fashion internship. 

    Here is a link to my FLICKR photo set that shows some of the FashionCAD students being instructed by Shenlei in Second Life.

    FRI offers courses, orientation programs, textbooks, and complete programs available as OAR files, ready to license to other institutions. Individuals are welcome to register for courses directly with FRI Here is a link to learn more about virtual fashion educational opportunities in Second Life.

    Some Easy to Learn Web 2.0 Applications to get you Started

    November 1, 2009 Leave a comment

    Pasted below is a SlideShare presentation about Web 2.0 applications with audio. The great thing about a SlideShare presentation is that the links embedded into the PowerPoint slides still work. The slide notes are all accessable on the SlideShare site.

    Slideshare now enables you to embed audio and YouTube video’s into the slideshare presentation only the catch is that you can add audio OR YouTube videos but not both. I wanted to embed a test clip Recording on SKYPE w/PAMELA after slide #19 [pasted below]

    and a Tour of the BSC island after slide #29 [pasted below]

    %d bloggers like this: