Posts Tagged ‘FRI & IBM’

IBM & FRI UPDATE: Virtual Fashion for Real World Production

October 12, 2008 2 comments

The video below illustrates a 3D Fashion LookBook titled “Nautical Dreams,” on the FRI island of Shengri La. The book contains Technical sketches, color chips, textile fabric swatches  and a large variety of possible product protypes for various styles under the “Nautical Dream” fashion trend theme.

IBM announced on 10/09/08  that “it has signed a multi-million IBM Global Business Services agreement with the Fashion Research Institute (FRI) to implement a first-of-a-kind Virtual World Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Enterprise System.”

“Fashion Research Institute, headquartered in New York, NY, conducts research into technology-based initiatives and develops emerging technologies to overhaul traditional fashion practices and methodologies. FRI’s mission is to reduce the carbon footprint and change the environmental impact of the industry in ways that are sustainable, replicable, respectful of the practitioners, and meaningful for all stakeholders. FRI maintains Shengri-La, a five-island complex in Second Life, and an OpenSim complex.”

This is a really exciting project. It will empower fashion designers to use 3D tools via a Second Life interface that connects to the OpenSim virtual world platform to create fashion products. The system currently in development will enable a highly efficient and creative workflow process for small and large businesses that encourages modifications, collaborations and the generation of virtual product samples that can be formulated into accurate specifications for cost effective mass production for real world manufacturing.

In the past, Shenlei Winkler (pictured to the left),  the Director of the Fashion Research Institute (FRI) was a designer for WallMart so she knows first hand the time and costs that are involved in development of a fashion product from start to finish. [ note: Fashion goes 3D [FORTUNE] Jon Fortt

According to Shenlei,

“Shengri La is the Fashion Research Institute’s Second Life ‘collaboratory’, which is maintained both to offer a permanent home for collaboration and to offer a shelter to the new and recently rezzed avatars of FRI’s collaborators.  Everything on the Shengri La is designed to encourage our collaborators to bring their associates into a virtual world and assist them in learning to use the virtual world to best advantage. 

Activities help people learn to move around and to use the associated tools to look at and learn about this world.  Events encourage social and business networking, which in turn allows avatars to develop deeper bonds with others and with the virtual world.”

This image links to FLICKR slideshow

 Some of the  goals of this project are to provide a simpler and more intuitive design interface, and to reduce market time

“As the Fashion Research Institute continues to enhance the IT capabilities of the fashion and consumer packaged goods industries, IBM’s deep knowledge in product design, enterprise systems, and virtual worlds will help FRI bring new market opportunities to the fashion world,” said Jeffrey Russell, IBM Global Business Services. “A design house implementing this solution could reduce dozens of weeks of design time, minimize the number of physical samples manufactured, and increase product manufacturing quality enough to put into development and production many additional collections.”

Read the rest of the announcement HERE.

Previous Posts relating to FRI:

Virtual Fashion – What is it?

June 18, 2008 5 comments

Shenlei Winkler (aka: Shenlei Flashart in SL] has an excellent post titled, “Avatar Apparel vs. the Real Apparel Industry,” clarifying the differences between what FRI [Fashion Research Institute]  terms, virtual fashion that is designed specifically for virtual worlds and gaming and the “1.7 trillion USD apparel industry.”

Actually it’s even becoming even more confusing then Shenlei mentions because the global apparel industry is now transitioning over to multi dimensional product development applications like Optitex [in the video below & see previous posts] that will empower the industry to develop in virtual 3D digital format [using virtual avatars] from square one.

So the term “virtual fashion” can refer to fashion developed specifically for end use in the the virtual world or fashion that is developed “virtually” via a multi dimensional application or “in the virtual world” for the real world global apparel industry. To add to the confusion 🙂 I  have developed a totally in world Introduction to Virtual Fashion online college course that prepares real world students of fashion to think, create, develop and work together and communicate in a virtual world setting. Register for College Level Intro to Virtual Fashion in SL [fall 08′] I believe that an application like Second Life provides fashion education programs with the tools to teach students a specialized (fashion) conceptual skill set from working in a 3D virtual reality environment that is free and open access for all fashion programs. Gaining these introductory virtual skills will begin to prepare students for emerging employer expectations relating to 3D conceptualization.

Some real life fashion designers like Nyla from the House of Nyla design and create one of a kind real world fashions and replicate them for virtual sales in a virtual world like Second Life.


House Of Nyla


And then there are the real life fashion designers like KOZMARA that create real world fashions using a multi dimensional product development application like Optitex that enables virtual development of a real world garment that can be easily manufactured.


What Shenlei is developing with IBM is real world apparel production design and development in a virtual world setting – this is really quite exciting and it takes a bit just to wrap your brain around it but once you do it leads to endless possibilities!

Shenlei goes on to describe how virtual fashion for end use in a virtual world is often developed in a 3D application like Photoshop or Illustrator and is never actually manufactured so the designer does not have to conform to a variety of size, trend, quality, production and time constraints.

She continues with a comparison of funds generated by the gaming industries and the global apparel industries. In her post, she eloquently details the four years of dedicated highly focused multi-faceted cross training involved in preparation to become a fashion designer in today’s global fashion industry.

All of these real world production details that a fashion design student must gain an understanding of are not required for a virtual fashion designer that designs specifically for the virtual gaming worlds. As Shenlei states, “the realities of manufacturability and wearer’s comfort are not even a consideration.”

Her blog post explains that the FRI research is not about fashion designing for the virtual world but working “in” and using virtual worlds to develop real world apparel for manufacture. FRI is,”focused on helping the apparel industry to cut its time to market, slash its development costs, reduce its carbon footprint, and enhance its profitability and revenue opportunities.”  FRI is, “using virtual worlds to insulate designers from technology and to enable them to focus on design.”

The real world apparel industry product development research that FRI is conducting is exceptionally exciting and has the potential to have a transformational impact on the global apparel industry. Anyone involved in the real world apparel industry is welcome to visit the Fashion Research Institute [FRI] in SL.  The FRI has made available new resident avatar kits in the welcome area of the FRI corporate sim complex in Second Life tm Shengri La. Here is a link to Shenlei’s post titled “Beautiful People….”

© 2008 All Rights Reserved.

Technology Day at FIT Part III

April 28, 2008 5 comments

Technology Day at FIT: Teaching and learning in Four Dimensions

Shenlei Winkler aka Shenlei Flashart in SL

 Round Table Discussions: Virtual World Community Gateway for the Apparel Industry presented by Shenlei Winkler, Director of the Fashion Research Institute [FRI]. 



Shenlei Winkler presents at FIT Technology Day

Shenlei Winkler aka Shenlei Flashart in SL is the lead developer of building a Virtual World Community Gateway, an orientation space developed expressly for apparel industry personnel where they can learn to navigate and use virtual worlds safely and free of any hassles that may exist in the general SL community environment. Virtual world skills will become increasingly more important as new industrial solutions incorporating virtual worlds are developed for the apparel industry.

Shenlei Winkler and Elaine Polvinen meet for the first rime in real life at the FIT Technology Day.

The Virtual World Community Gateway for the Apparel Industry is located in Second Life on a group of five sims (a utopian micronation in Second Life) owned by the Fashion Research Institute. Shengri La is one of the islands, here is the SURL location to visit the Fashion Research Institute in Second Life.

The Second Life Virtual World orientation space is currently open by invitation only to apparel industry personnel. The gateway is open 24/7, 365 days and trained helpers will be available on a limited basis. Individuals will be encouraged to learn at their own pace with tutorials so they can gain a virtual skill comfort level at their own speed. Shenlei’s contact info is

It is not open to the general public. If you are a member of the apparel industry or fashion educator and are interested in introducing yourself and your faculty/staff contact Shenlei Winkler to gain access to the specialized virtual world orientation gateway she has created for the apparel industry and fashion educators.

According to Shenlei, this virtual world introductory experience will also include a  variety of customization options (provided by some of the top designers in SL) that will include everything a new user will need to develop their own style.

Industrial solutions incorporating virtual worlds are currently in development within the Black Dress Technology (Black Dress) subsidiary that FRI and IBM recently announced to develop an end-to-end enterprise solution for virtual-worlds-based product design for the [real world] fashion industry. This solution will serve small niche fashion product developer as well as mass market private label retailers.

Shenlei spoke about her past experience as a fashion product developer for a multi million dollar retailer. 2D designs are often misunderstood at the factory, presenting the designs in 3D virtual reality would eliminate multiple time wasting errors. A virtual reality product development application will allow real time development. The virtual world design solution that FRI & IBM are currently working on will result in a faster more robust and stable environment for apparel design. It is designed and set-up specifically for [real world] apparel and product designers. This will finally resolve the issue of accurate creative development time as time studies for creative work will be automatically calculated. FRI & IBM are also developing and testing the virtual world platform OpenSim, which is an enterprise alternative to Second Life(tm).

One last note about Shenlei Winkler – to locate multiple posts about Shenlei and the Fashion Research Institute please search within this blog for “Shenlei Winkler” or the “Fashion Research Institute.”

There were plenty of other Discussion Roundtables but alas I could not split myself into multiple personalities to participate in all of them. I would like to invite other roundtable leaders to comment to this post to summarize your discussion. Some of the other roundtable leaders were:

  • [Blogging in Italian] Isabella Bertoletti
  • [Conversations About Design] Leslie Blum [COM DES], Nancy Deihi [TEX/SUR DES], and Gordon Frey [INT DES]
  •  [Education: Product and/or Process] Daria Dorosh from the New Media Institute, University of East London
  • [A Second Life for the Classroom?] Larry Dugan, Finger Lakes Community COllege and Beth Ritter-Guth, Lehigh Carbon Community College
  • [Virtual Astonomy for Hybred Courses in the  Physical Sciences] Joseph Liddicoat [Science & Math]
  • [Online Teaching and Learning in Spanish] Madeline Millan [Foreign Languages]
  •  [Science & Math] [Having Technical Discussions Online]Karen Pearson [Science & Math] Calvin Williamson
  • [Web 2.0: Distributed Creativity and Framing Thought] G. Brett Phares from Marist College
  • [The Information Dimension of the FIT Library] NJ Wolfe [Gladys Marcus Library FIT]

[note: if a college is not mentioned after the name, the person is an FIT faculty member]

Continued on …Technology Day at FIT – Part IV

Link to my FLICKR images from the conference.

© 2008 All Rights Reserved.

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