Fashion Research Institute Launches Virtual Runway™

Virtual Runway™ Helps Fashion Designers Accelerate Their Sales and Marketing

Fashion Research Institute launches immersive, interactive runway show for apparel industry

NEW YORK — April 9, 2010 — This month, fashion leaps forward at warp speed as Fashion Research Institute launches Virtual Runway™, a 24/7 on-demand 3D runway show service for fashion designers. For the first time ever, fashion designers can quickly and easily present their design concepts in an interactive 3D environment that allows designers to cut time to market, save sample costs, and showcase their work to both wholesale and retail buyers.

Virtual Runway™ recreates the look and feel of a live show with music, 360-degree views of fully-customizable virtual models and both immersive and video capabilities.  Designers can log into their private runway studio and iterate on their designs, then showcase their work in a fully choreographed runway show. They can invite buyers, media, colleagues, and production managers into their runway studio, where they can discuss the designs as the models move around the runway.   Or designers can simply make fast, easy videos, with file sizes small enough to be sent to any mobile device.

Unlike traditional runway shows and web-shows, the Virtual Runway™ models can also interact with the audience.

“Our model avatars have artificial intelligence,” said Shenlei Winkler, CEO, Fashion Research Institute.  “They will say exactly what you tell them to say, so you can have them talk about the designs they are wearing, the designer, the collection, and any other marketing information you want them to share. You don’t need to supervise them, and even though they are multi-tasking our Virtual Runway models never miss a step.”

Virtual Runway™ has more than 800 billion stock model options available to designers, who also have an additional 900 billion choices of accessories.  This wide range of options lets designers fully customize their models, selecting from choices that include everything from more than 2,500 hairstyles and hundreds of makeup options in up to 20 skin tones.  And once the models are dressed and ready to go, a designer simply chooses a choreographed runway set and adds her own label and branding to the set.

Both local and environmental lighting is built-in, and models can be highlighted, or the entire environment changed quickly and easily to reflect the mood the designer wants for her collection.  Once the models are moving on the catwalk, designers can invite others to join her in her Virtual Runway™ studio, or she can create video that is perfect for web or mobile.

“We’re very excited about this product.” Winkler said. “We are using it to present a mirror world event on behalf of two of our best student interns from Buffalo State University.  We have created their senior fashion show inside a Virtual Runway™ studio, and have filmed the collections in advance of their actual runway show.  Our video of their virtual collections and the actual physical collections will be concurrently presented on May 1, 2010.”

Virtual Runway™ runs on top of the OpenSim platform, and training for designers to learn to use the interface and the Runway software are available through short seminars and accredited college courses.

For more information about Virtual Runway™ , please contact Jeff Russell, Director of Sales, at (631) 880-8611 or via e-mail, jeff at fashionresearchinstitute.com.

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Virtual Fashion Internships for Winter 2010

Virtual apparel is a burgeoning market.  In 2007, more than $2.6 billion dollars of virtual goods were sold in virtual worlds, games, and immersive spaces.  This figure is expected to double in 2010. Avatar apparel – clothing, accessories, and footwear worn by avatars – is a huge part of these sales.  Until now, there have been no programs specifically intended to help new designers become established in this area.

After more than 3 years of development, the Fashion Research Institute is pleased to announce 5 avatar apparel design internships to be conducted wholly in the immersive workspaces it maintains in OpenSim and Second Life.

The focus of the internship is to develop skills for virtual goods development, specifically apparel with a lesser focus on accessories and footwear.  The intent of the internship is to assist interns to develop private design practices where they can create and sell their virtual goods. Interns are provided with classroom space and creation space in FRI’s OpenSim regions, and store front space on the heavily trafficked Shengri La regions in Second Life.  Interns are taught using the patent-pending design methodology created by Fashion Research Institute, which is applicable to both avatar apparel and to their work developing physical apparel.

These internships will begin January 25th and run until April 30.  Interns are expected to commit a minimum of 6-8 hours a week to the internship, with formal training sessions provided on Monday evenings from 6-9 pm ET.  Interns must commit to being present at these training sessions.  Instruction is provided only in English.

At the end of their internships, interns’ work will be presented in a virtual fashion runway show, with live models which the interns will style from hair to shoes.  All interns will complete their internship with Fashion Research Institute with a completed collection of avatar apparel including concept boards to product ads, which may be added to their portfolio. A final presentation of their work will be created.  Our Summer interns’ runway show can be viewed here.

Requirements:

Interns must provide their own Internet access and computer hardware and software sufficient to allow them access to the Institute’s classroom and facilities in the immersive OpenSim and Second Life regions of Shengri La.  Interns must have experience with and access to Photoshop (not provided). Interns must have a Second Life avatar account (available free), and are solely responsible for any fees related to their Second Life account.   Interns must also have a Skype account (free) with access to it during training periods.

Interns who successfully complete the 12 week long program will receive a certificate of completion and may be eligible for admission into the Fashion Research Institute incubation program.

Applicants may be currently enrolled in design school or recent graduates. Some design experience and background is required; these internships are not suitable for freshmen.  Internships begin January 25th.

To apply, send your resume with 1-2 fashion images you have sketched or illustrated along with contact information to admin @ fashionresearchinstitute.com.  Deadline for application is January 15th.

Announcing Fashion Research Institute Office Hours in OpenSim and Second Life

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Effective October 5th, Fashion Research Institute will conduct office hours in its OpenSim and Second Life regions.

Office Hours in Science Sim will be held in our Shengri La Thyme region from 1-2 pm Eastern every Thursday.  Office Hours in vBusiness will be held in our Shengri La vBusiness region from 2-2:30 pm Eastern every Friday.  Office Hours in Second Life will be held in our Shengri La Hope region from 1-2 pm Eastern every Monday.

Our office hours are come-as-you-are, informal opportunities to meet and discuss topics of interest with our thought leaders in design education, apparel industry development, virtual goods, the use of virtual worlds for product design and development, and related topics.  Thoughts on our mind this week are 3-D websites enabled with Web 2.0 capability, professional development, OpenSim performance, creativity, and fashion design education. What’s on your mind?