The Fashion Research Institute is at the fore-front of developing innovative design & merchandising solutions for the apparel industry. We research and develop products and systems for the fashion industry that sweepingly address wasteful business and production practices.
FRI has developed a patent-pending design methodology and new technology infrastructure using virtual worlds as the user interface. This infrastructure reduces related fashion industry production landfill wastes and by-products to up to 60% over traditional fashion production methods and cut time-to-market for products by as much as six weeks. This infrastructure is delivered both as an SaaS solution for small apparel design houses and as an enterprise installation for large design companies.
In addition to their use for developing apparel, our product design and development software also provides innovative virtual merchandising solutions for apparel, including displaying and developing avatar customization content or “virtua“. Previously an unexplored area, Virtua offers apparel designers a new revenue stream in emerging virtual goods marketplace.
We also provide related avatar customization content (virtua) and orientation solutions for new users of virtual worlds. We use a proven design framework as well as a version of Black Dress Design Studio to develop avatar customization content, which can be delivered via fully-loaded OpenSim regions to OpenSim grids or through the Fashionable Grid™ federated asset server. We have a well-defined licensing process with which all of our content creators must comply to ensure their content is original work. This protects organizations licensing content through FRI against concerns about laundered content and copyright infringement.
We train designers to use this framework in our educational offerings provided on our OpenSim regions behind our firewall, using our textbook, Designing Dreams: The Art & Business of Avatar Apparel Design & Development, written especially for our courses.
Since 2008, we have provided more than 65,000 new users with orientation services in our entry portal in Second Life on our region Shengri La™. We offer a fully developed orientation region which may be easily licensed and loaded into any OpenSim-based grid. As well as enabling new users to learn to use these immersive spaces, we also include avatar customization content including the default FRI avatars John and Jane.
FRI’s vision is to develop sustainable, multi-channel product design and development applications for the fashion industry, which will change the way the industry develops its product, reducing waste and cutting time and costs. FRI is an IBM business partner and research collaborator with Intel Labs.
FRI maintains a substantial virtual world presence, including twenty regions in the ScienceSim grid dedicated to education; a private development grid behind the FRI firewall dedicated to product design and development; an initial presence in IBM’s v-Business grid; and a small space in Second Life® dedicated to ongoing research in immersion and orientation of new users. We have been a critical part of the OpenSimulator development pathway, both through providing performance testing and feedback and through our core developers on the OpenSim project. And we even wrote the book: Shengri La Spirit: A Designer’s Perspective of the Making of OpenSim is now available on Amazon.com.