Fashion Research Institute Announces Formation of Black Dress Technology Subsidiary

Fashion Research Institute Announces Formation of Black Dress Technology Subsidiary


NYC, NY, April 08, 2008 – Fashion Research Institute, Inc. (FRI) has launched a subsidiary, Black Dress Technology (Black Dress), to develop an end-to-end enterprise solution for virtual-worlds-based product design for the fashion industry in conjunction with IBM, FRI’s technology partner.

 Black Dress will provide a virtual world experience specifically developed for apparel and accessory designers.  This virtual world, expressly created as a product design environment, will offer a fundamentally new work flow addressing critical issues facing the fashion industry, such as ensuring manufacturability of designs and decreasing substantial sample costs by up to 60%.  In addition, this “green” solution reduces the carbon footprint of the fashion industry.  Users of the Black Dress solution will ultimately be able to enter a virtual world, receive training on the systems, and take a design from concept to prototype – with every step short of actual manufacturing being done virtually.  

 Black Dress will offer an IBM-backed and -developed enterprise solution providing a simpler and more intuitive user interface than currently existing products, apparel-industry-oriented software, and scalability for businesses of all sizes.  Users of the technology could see sample creation costs decreased by 60% and time to market cut by as much as six weeks per collection.  Additionally, management and executive staff can have access to real-time business statistics so they can make immediate, informed decisions. This technology solution was showcased in the IBM booth at the National Retail Federation Show in January 2008.  

 A mid-sized design house implementing a Black Dress Technology solution could save millions a year in sample costs and dozens of weeks of development time, enough to put into development and production one full collection or two mini-collections.  This, in turn, could allow this company to generate additional tens of millions a year in gross revenue.

 Black Dress’s board currently includes Jeffrey Safran, president, Antares ITI; Richard M. Fine, Ph.D., principle, Biopredict; and Theodore Buyniski, Esq., SVP, Radford.  Black Dress is also being overseen by FRI’s CEO, Shenlei Winkler.  Winkler brings more than 20 years of fashion experience and has designed both virtual world and real world fashion with annual sales of more than $30 million.  The roster of Black Dress Technology officers has not yet been announced.

 “Black Dress will be competing in a $1.7 trillion global industry, where the rapid turnover of in-house IT systems clearly tells us there’s a huge need for an improved solution.  We intend to deliver that solution, in a way that serves the unique needs of both the creative design staff and executive management.  In fact, we see our solution as finally allowing management to monitor and manage the previously unmanageable design process without disrupting the delicate creative process,” said Winkler.

 Black Dress’s parent company, Fashion Research Institute, conducts research into technology-based initiatives and develops emerging technologies to sweepingly overhaul traditional fashion industry 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.  FRI is an IBM business partner, and has been working closely with top IBM architects and researchers over the last year to develop its virtual worlds-based product design solution.