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The Ultimate Guide to Wearing a Chambray Shirt

January 14, 2014 Leave a comment

UPDATE (Feb 27 2013): If you like this article – you should ‘Like’ Confessions of a Product Junkie’s brand new Facebook page to get updates when there are more fashion how to’s and articles like this one.

Chambray and denim shirts have been popular for quite a few seasons now, and for good reason. They are, hands down, one of the easiest trends to wear. They’re also the glue that ties many other spring trends together (as you’ll see in this guide).

Personally, I’m a huge fan of the chambray. Some of my favorites are from J Crew (I have this one), Lauren by RL and Urban Outfitters.

More options…

However, I’m sad to see that many women have avoided purchasing a chambray because they’re just not sure how to wear them. That’s where I come in. Because one of the questions I get asked most often is how to pull off the chambray (or I get asked how to wear other things and the answer is always “with a chambray!”), I decided it was time to put together a guide. So here are my tips for wearing a chambray or denim shirt. Enjoy!

Image on left via See Jane. Image on right is me.

So if you add one thing to your wardrobe this spring, make it a chambray or denim shirt. In fact, make it two – because if you follow these tips for wearing yours, you’ll get so much use out of it that you’ll want to own both.

UPDATE (Feb 27 2013): If you like this article – you should ‘Like’ Confessions of a Product Junkie’s brand new Facebook page to get updates when there are more fashion how to’s and articles like this one.

You might also like:

Dress it up a little

10 of-the-moment styles and how to wear them

10 Ways to Wear Jeans and a T-Shirt
Categories: avatar, Blogroll, Bodyscanning, BSCRUNWAY, Digital Fashion, Fashion Education, Fashion in Second Life, Fashion Project, Fashion Technology, IFFTI, Mass Customization, MCPC 2007, NMC 2007, NMC Symposium on Creativity in SL 2007, OpenSim, Optitex, Professor, RUNWAY, RUNWAY 2.0, Runway 3.0, Second Life, Second Life BLogs, SLCCedu07, TC2, Technology, Uncategorized, Virtual Fashion, Virtual Fashion Branding, Virtual Fashion Marketing, Virtual Fashion PRO, Virtual Fashion Student Blogs, Virtual World Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Real and Virtual Buffalo State Loves Cotton Exhibitions

A number of class projects from the Buffalo State College Loves Cotton education grant sponsored by Cotton Inc. have already been completed.

REAL WORLD EXHIBITS
During the summer of 2011 [June & July] a real world exhibit will be on display in the E.H. Butler library on the campus of Buffalo State College. This exhibit will be changing and installed by Dr Lynn Boorady, the project director for this Cotton Inc. education grant. Another real world Buffalo Loves Cotton exhibit is planned for 234 Gallery September 18 – 24, 2011.

VIRTUAL WORLD EXHIBIT

A virtually created exhibition of the Buffalo State Loves Cotton project has been developed by Elaine Polvinen and is currently open on the Buffalo State Island in Second Life. This exhibit will be in place until 12/31/11. You are invited to visit the exhibit in the virtual world of Second Life.

There are several options for you to visit the virtual exhibition. The first option [if you are not already a member of the SL community]  is to download and join Second Life [It’s free to join].

  • Link to What is Second Life HERE .
  •  Link to Download Second Life HERE.  
  • Link to Join Second Life HERE.

Install the Second Life application on your computer. Then go to the link to join Second Life. You first choose an avatar, then register for Second Life [remember it is free to join] and get a user name and password. Once you complete the registration and select and avatar you can open the second life application. You will need to type in your user name and password. The first time you enter the world of Second Life you will experience about a  30 minute self-help tutorial on Orientation Welcome Island  that will guide you through the steps of learning how to communicate, walk, move around [using move tools], camera controls, how to sit, fly, and change you avatars basic appearance. I believe also covers the basics of search, using the map, opening a note card and buying things in Second Life.

Here is a video to show you with the Welcome Orientation island is like HERE

Once you have completed the tutorial you can teleport over to the Buffalo State region by clicking on the SURL.

Clicking on this SLURL [Second Life URL] will take you to the landing location [image on left] on the Buffalo State island.

When you land on the Buffalo State island [sponsored by the Research Foundation] turn around and you will see the posters for the Buffalo Loves Cotton exhibit in the back of the first floor of the Research building. The actual BLC exhibit is up the curved ramp to the second floor.

Here is a link to my slideshow in FLICKR that will familiarize you with the exhibit area before you go.

Another option is only open to educators. If you are an educator and would like to get a virtual tour of the Buffalo Loves Cotton exhibit for your students please contact me at polvinem@buffalostate.edu

Buffalo Loves Cotton Texture Gallery for Second Life

Very soon there will be a Buffalo State Loves Cotton virtual exhibition opening in Second Life. All of the final selected Buffalo Loves Cotton seamless textures that were used to create the Fashion Mash Collection for Runway 4.0 are here in this gallery and will also be available at the  exhibition in Second Life [free with all permissions opened] for you to use for your virtual creations.

So you can either right mouse click and copy them from this blog post and upload them for $10L each or you can visit the exhibit when it opens and get them all in world for free. They are all 412 X 512 pixels.

Virtual Fashion FRI Spring/Summer 2010 Courses

April 5, 2010 8 comments

The Fashion research Institute will be offering a variety of Spring-Summer 2010 learning experiences: webinars, workshops, short courses, and accredited college courses.

Webinars are 1 hour; workshops are 4 hours; mini-courses are 20 hours; and accredited courses are semester-long, 3-credit courses offered through Buffalo State University nonmatriculated/distance learning program.

COLLEGE CREDIT VIRTUAL FASHION

Designed for the currently matriculated student or for the returning, nontraditional student, FTT495 is a 3-credit college course taught through Buffalo State University.  Taught completely on-line, students from around the world may register for this summer course that will be offered in Session A : taught June 1-June 26, 2010; Session B: taught  June 28 -July 24, 2010;   or Session C: Taught July 26-August 14, 2010.    Teaching is focused on using Photoshop to develop fashion for virtual worlds.

Tech requirements: Fast internet connection, hardware suitable to run Second Life, Photoshop, scanner, account on ScienceSim.com and Second Life, Skype account

Previous experience: Exposure to Photoshop. Users must know the overall PS menu and be able to access the Tool menu.

Duration: 2.5 hour class times TBA by instructor [2-4:30pm EST M-F].

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (Per Credit Hour)

NY State resident
Tuition (per credit hour) $207
College fee (per credit hour) $.85
Activity fee (flat fee) $5
Health fee (per credit hour) $9.60
Athletic fee (per credit hour) $10.50
Technology fee (per credit hour) $13.50

Out-of-state resident
Tuition (per credit hour) $536
College fee (per credit hour) $.85
Activity fee (flat fee) $5
Health fee (per credit hour) $9.60
Athletic fee (per credit hour) $10.50
Technology fee (per credit hour) $13.50

Register at the Buffalo State University web site: http://www.buffalostate.edu/summer/

Session A registration begins April 7 through June 2, class starts June 1.

Session A [1980] FTT495 VIRTUAL FASHION: VIRTUAL WORLD

Session B registration begins April 7 through June 2, class starts June 28.

Session B [1981] FTT495 VIRTUAL FASHION: VIRTUAL WORLD

Session C registration begins April 7 through June 2, class starts July 26.

Session C [1982] FTT495 VIRTUAL FASHION: VIRTUAL WORLD

This course follows a collection-oriented design sequence, in which the class is expected to develop a mood board, color story, and concept boards for 6 outfits which will be developed for inclusion in a virtual fashion show, which will be designed as a group project. The course includes class work and home work and follows an aggressive schedule successfully piloted with real life fashion design students.  Students have full creation privileges in the online classroom as well as an assigned space for use for the duration of the class. Students receive virtual tool kit resources as part of their tuition.

All texture work is expected to be accomplished off line as part of the homework assignments.  Extensive resources and documentation are provided in the classroom, and students have full access to the classroom during their course.  All work is graded and receives feedback from the instructor. Students will complete 3 outfits, develop an initial label concept, and complete an initial showroom/store design. They will show their work on a runway at the final class, using their avatars as models.

Students must provide their own computer, internet connection, scanner, and image editing program(s) as well as have Second Life and Skype accounts.

Recommended text book: Designing Dreams, Shenlei E. Winkler, available on Amazon.com

About the instructor:

Shenlei Winkler (Shenlei Flasheart in SL) is a 30 year veteran of the fashion industry.  Her work spans both couture and mass market design and development for the real life apparel industry.  A successful designer, her lifetime sales of her real life apparel designs have now reached more than $70 million USD, with more than 25 million-dollar styles in her portfolio.  Her couture work has appeared extensively on stage and movie screen.  Winkler has also enjoyed success in Second Life, where she has designed fashion since 2005, with three popular brands including Prim & Proper (one of the top 400 Second Life earners in 2006), Flash & Trash, and Debutante. Her educational background includes three design degrees, including two from the prestigious Fashion Intitute of Technology.  Currently, she is the CEO and founder of the Fashion Research Institute which is focused on researching and developing virtualization technologies with particular emphasis for the apparel industry.  Her research areas include content licensing for virtual goods, virtualization of enterprise in immersive workspaces, OpenSim enterprise application development, and user immersion in virtual worlds.

More details on the Fashion Research Institute’s Blog: Spring/Summer 2010 Courses

To see work from previous students, please see: http://blip.tv/file/2057206

FRI Student Interns Take Manhattan: Day Three!

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

In front of the Macy's "Theater" Window

Since the FRI interns had a long and grueling day the previous day, we got a later start on Friday.  No one seemed to be in a big hurry to finish up breakfast, served in the sun-drenched family room (a definite advantage in wintery New York).  Nevertheless, we finally got ourselves loaded into the car for our hour-long drive into the City.

Read the rest of their tale here…

FRI Student Interns Take Manhattan! Days 1 and 2

February 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Missy and Britt, experienced commuters

Our student interns, Brittany and Melissa, arrived at Poughkeepsie station via Amtrak on Wednesday, February 10th for a four-day experiential.  Britt and Missy are students at Buffalo State University, interning with Fashion Research Institute.  They’ve been working with us since their Fashion CAD course in Spring 2009.  Their professor, Elaine Polvinen, has been instrumental in helping Britt and Missy get the days off from their regular classes to come to New York City and have the opportunity for first-hand apparel industry exposure.

Get the rest of the story, here…

FRI’s Virtual Fashion Interns from Buffalo State

February 10, 2010 1 comment

FRI’s Student Interns, New York City, and Fashion Week

 

Head over to the Fashion Research Institute’s Shengri La blog [by clicking the link above] and read Shenlei Winkler’s post about hosting two Buffalo State College virtual fashion interns. The students are preparing their real/virtual collections for the Runway 3.0 event May 1st in Buffalo, NY.

Towards the Future: A Foundation to Support OpenSim in Education, Science, and Research

December 29, 2009 1 comment


Fashion Research Institute CEO Shenlei Winkler presented the initial proposal for a formal foundation for OpenSim in education, science, and research on Friday, December 11 at a MICA Professional Seminar in Second Life. Shenlei is known to some as a Mass market designer, an educator, a large scale virtual builder in Open Sim such as Shengri La Spirit designed to “push” the performance ability. Shenlei served as executive administrator and grant writer for the SLOAN digital sky survey [SDSS] project . She has  experience working on big projects that have sweeping scope and a variety of collaborators across multiple continents and cultures.

The link above w/slides will open an audio podcast of her presentation. Pasted below is a summary of what she presented – details are in the audio.

When her team of multi-disciplinary collaborators first suggested the possibility of a foundation for Open Sim, Shenlei  stepped up and agreed to champion the community building process and administrative aspects to help make this foundation a reality.

For the past few months multidisciplinary teams have been collaborating and working on different educational, scientific  and research projects on the IEEE  ACM hosted Science Sim grid which now includes about 80 regions or so. Shenlei goes on to mention some of the projects that were developed to support the development of Open Sim. She mentions her side projects of putting together the first ever Virtual world based Fashion Design Conference [ Threading the Needle:The Future of Fashion Design Conference] for a global audience of fashion design students and educators.  These efforts from a multi disciplinary collaboration have yielded a rich repository of knowledge and best practices. She stated that all collaborators and participants agreed that they did not want to see the efforts of the combined knowledge lost.

The vision she presented: “A foundation that maintains a stable distribution of OpenSim to enable new usages for education, science, and research in persistent 3D spaces built and deployed by a federation of organizations and users.”

The mission she presented:

  • Maintain a stable distribution of the OpenSim 3D platform.
  • Document  best practices for the use of OpenSim in science and education
  • Provide a toolkit of content and applications to support these best practices.

The community is currently in a very early stage of a two phase development. The first phase entails determining user requirements  – Shenlei made an open call for WIKI contributions of user requirements –  interested parties to e-mail they thought about this directly to her. More meetings will be set up in world over the next few weeks. Please send your contact information to Shenlei Winkler is you would like her to notify you that an upcoming meeting will be taking place. Scisim-discuss@googlegroups.com

This is a grand sweeping initiative and there is a lot of room in this tent for anyone that wants to help and participate. Input is welcome.

OpenSim is a great platform it’s broadly extensible and the artificial limits of the Second Life platform are not present however it has it’s quirks and documentation and best practices will be very helpful for new practitioners. If you are a tester or a technical writer or you just want to help out this is a great way to get involved. The foundation will also provide training and orientation material and may also provide training and orientation programs as well. The foundations will also develop toolkits of content, scripting and plug-ins that will be available to users that are affiliated with the foundation. Having certain basic content classes available to new users helps speed their virtual world emersion

Shenlei states that ” the Fashion Research Institute [FRI ] has provided new default avatars on the ScienceSIM  new users to this grid immediately change into these avatars that are provided. Content like this is important – research finds that work does not get done until the avatar user is content that the avatar is customized to their taste. But beyond basic avatar content new projects may require common scripts, tool such as presentation boards, viewers, land and group management tools. Various plug ins help speed adoption of the successful implementation of ew projects. The foundation can provide a central authority and repository for such references and support services.” Shenlei welcomes any feedback from all users. Scisim-discuss@googlegroups.com

Skills that are needed:

  • Administration
  • Documentation
    • Integration user level Admin Developer
    • Development
    • Project Management
    • System Grid Administration
    • Content Creation
      • Building, Graphic Design, Scripting, Integration, Avatar Customization
      • Marketing
        • Collateral Logo name, style book, event planning
        • Grant Writing
        • Management Policies Development
        • Public Relations
          • Social Media, New  Outreach
          • Legal Support
          • Technical Training

Your help is requested to help launch this foundation. Scisim-discuss@googlegroups.com

Virtual Retail Sales are Hot, Hot Hot!

December 28, 2009 1 comment

This week there is a MUST READ article by By Jayne O’Donnell, USA TODAY titled,” Unlike reality, virtual retail sales are hot, especially for avatars. ” The article verifies the trends that the Fashion Research Institute has previously concluded. Millions of people are buying virtual fashion items and sales are booming.

There is a section that illustrates CEOS’ AVATARS: What virtual-world execs find fashionable. Mark Kingdon CEO of  Linden Lab, Neil Edwards CEO of Cellufun and Cary Rosenzweig CEO of  IMVU are pictured along with their customized avatars.

Second Life CEO Mark Kingdon states that perhaps the bad economic conditions in the real world are positively impacting sales in the virtual worlds.

“Virtual goods cost a fraction of what goods cost in the real world,” Kingdon says. “You can get a beautiful pair of white ice skates for … less than $2.”

The USA Today article has a short explanation of how the buying and selling process works in a virtual world but if you want to know how it works in Second Life – listen to Missy’s virtual internship interview. Missy’s SL Virtual Internship Interview I ask Missy to explain the entire buying and selling process of virtual fashion goods in Second Life.

The USA Today article goes on to state that:

“IMVU, a social-networking site and virtual world that caters to 13- to 24-year-olds, does more than $2 million in sales each month. Almost all of the virtual goods sold on IMVU are made by users, who keep the proceeds. IMVU makes its money selling the credits used to buy virtual goods. Overall December sales are expected to be up 20% over November, and sales will be about $22 million this year, mostly from the direct sale of virtual credits to users.”

In an earlier guest post FRI: Virtual Fashion Internships by Shenlei Winkler [CEO of Fashion Research Institute], she summarized current retail fashion trends for the virtual world:

“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.”

The growing trends of virtual fashion sales and the translation into real currency for this market translates into viable reasons for fashion education to begin addressing the niche market of virtual fashion.

Bella Fantasique – Midnight Sparkle Collection

December 9, 2009 2 comments

Here are the images from Missy Lavecchia”s Bella Fantasique – Midnight Sparkle Collection. These are the fashions created for Missy’s first solo show in Second Life last Monday evening titled “Jewels of Winter”.

You don’t actually have to be in-world to purchase these virtual garments. You can go to the Xstreet SL Marketplace, purchase them there and they will automatically be delivered to your inventory in-world or if you purchase them as a gift they will be delivered to your gift recipients inventory in world.

Here is a link to Missy’s Bella Fantastique – Midnight Sparkle collection at Xstreet. If the link does not work correctly go to Xstreet SL Marketplace and search for “Bella Fantastique – Midnight Sparkle.”


Links to other related blog postings about Missy:

Missy Lavecchia First Solo Show

December 7, 2009 4 comments

Missy Lavecchia had her first solo in-world show and exhibition this evening from 7-8pm ET with Jewels of Winter. The show was well attended and the fashion model exhibits were exquisite. I tried to catch some snapshots but I was having technical issues – I only caught a  few images. I was having difficulties with my video capture as well  – what I did manage to get was choppy but it will give you can idea of the exhibits. [UPDATE: Here is a link to Missy’s Bella Fantasique – Midnight Sparkle Collection that was exhibited at her first solo show.]

The setting was a magical winter wonderland. You teleported in to a circular boardwalk that spanned around the exhibition area. The outside perimeters of the boardwalk had mini exhibits with Missy’s fashions and the central area of the boardwalk had multiple models skating and continually moving about. All exhibits had large wrapped presents and the tags contained the fashion garments that were for sale. The prices were exceptionally reasonable.

Kuddos to Missy and also to her in-world mentor Shenlei Winkler from the Fashion Research Institute.

Here is a link to her XStreet fashion items.

Other blog postings related to Missy:

  • Missy’s SL Virtual Internship Interview
  • Virtual Fashion Internship Follow-Up Questions
  • Missy Lavecchia in Jewels of Winter
  • Bella Fantasique – Midnight Sparkle Collection
  • Missy Lavecchia in Jewels of Winter

    December 5, 2009 3 comments

     

    Please try to attend the student fashion installation in Second Life this Monday, December 7th from 7-8PM ET [4PM SLT/PT] for Missy Lavecchia, a Buffalo State fashion student. Missy has been interning for the past 9 months with  Shenlei Winkler [aka: Shenlei Flasheart in SL] from the Fashion Research Institute. This installation will represent Missy’s first solo show in Second Life.

    Shenlei Winkler, CEO pf the  Research Institute states that:

     “Missy will be showing formal gowns developed in rich jewel tones in honor of the holiday season.  Her gowns, fittingly enough, will be presented in an opulent winter wonderland of snow and ice.  A dozen gorgeous models and 4 handsome gentlemen callers will showcase Missy’s romantic gowns in a tableaux befitting the set.

    Please join us on Monday December 7th, at 7 pm ET/4 pm PT in Shengri La Second Life to celebrate the outstanding work of this star performer as her models show her work with aplomb.

    Here’s the SLurl Link to teleport you into SL for Missy’s show: The set will not be open to the public until 7 pm ET promptly – early arrivals will just end up wandering aimlessly around in our marketplace so please wait until 7pm ET to teleport over.”

    Missy has the Bella Fantastique boutique in Second Life. Here is a SLURL link to her boutique.

    Other blog postings related to Missy:

  • Missy’s SL Virtual Internship Interview
  • Virtual Fashion Internship Follow-Up Questions
  • Missy Lavecchia First Solo Show
  • Bella Fantasique – Midnight Sparkle Collection
  • First (Ever!) Virtual World-Based Fashion Design Conference

    December 2, 2009 Leave a comment

    Head on over to Shenlei Winkler’s [FRI] post detailing last minute preparation for the Threading the Needle Fashion Design Conference

    Patterning History:
    Preparing for the First (Ever!)
    Virtual World-Based
    Fashion Design Conference.

    I visited the conference area in the images below. Shenlei orientated my avatar and provided it with clothing, hair, skin and shoes. Thank you Shenlei! Here is a link to the FRI orientation page. I visited the conference area where I will be presenting.

    I managed to snap an image of Steven Zucker obsessing about his avatar’s nose. It look just fine to me Steven! 🙂

    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 sciencesim.com. 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 http://grid.sciencesim.com/ 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 http://needlethreading.com/ or contact admin @ fashionresearchinstitute.com.

    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 www.fashionresearchinstitute.com

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