Fashion Research Institute Provides New Default Avatars to ScienceSim


As part of Fashion Research Institute’s collaboration with Intel, we are providing our default avatars John and Jane to ScienceSim for the use of ScienceSim visitors.  New users who log-in to ScienceSim within ten days of making an account will automatically receive two folders, each containing one of these avatars.  The avatar folders will be given to them within 30 seconds of landing in Newton, the central landing point in ScienceSim.  A full corporate avatar look is provided in these folders, including hair, skin, shape, clothing, and even shoes.

Visitors can simply ‘drag and drop’ the avatar folder of their choice onto their default Ruthed representation.  This will allow our visitors to almost immediately change their look into either John or Jane.  The shape may be modified further, and additional avatar customization content is available in Newton.

‘Joahn’ and ‘Jane’ are provided to ScienceSim as part of the Fashion Research Institute’s collaboration with Intel Labs, and help extend Intel’s ScienceSim collaboration collaboration with Supercomputing ’09 for immersive scientific collaboration.



Fashion Research Institute Joins IBM’s v-Business Consortium

Fashion Research Institute is pleased to join IBM’s v-Business Consortium.

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.

Our product design and development software provide innovative virtual merchandising solutions for apparel, which is the display for a related product, avatar customization content or “virtua“.  In addition to these offerings, we also provide related avatar customization content (virtua) and orientation solutions for new users. We use a proven design framework 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 60,000 new users with orientation services in our entry portal in Second Life. We offer a fully developed orientation region which may be easily licensed and loaded into any OpenSim-based grid.  In addition to 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 bio-renewable, sustainable, multi-channel production pipelines for the fashion industry, which will change the way the industry handles raw materials, processed materials, product design methodology, and product tracking technology.  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 five islands 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

Fashion Research Institute Announces Autumn 2009 Student Internships


Virtual apparel is a burgeoning market.  In 2008, 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 2009. 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 specific 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.

These internships will begin October 5 and run until December 14.  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.


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 need not be currently enrolled in design school, but design experience and background is helpful.

To apply, send your resume with 1-2 fashion images you have sketched or illustrated along with contact information to admin @

Student Intern Show “Fluid” in Shengri La Second Life Tonight!


Please join the Fashion Research Institute on Tuesday, August 25th at 6 pm PDT for a very special runway show showcasing the work of our Summer 2009 student interns!  The region will open to the audience at 5:45 pm PDT, and we will start promptly at 6:00.

Our designers, Trinity Hartunian, Missy Lavecchia, and Palette Schuttelanz, are senior design students from fashion design schools around the United States.  They have been interning with us since early June, and we are very pleased to present their work in their student show, Fluid.

Trinity’s label is Category Five, and her collection “Linear” is clean and sleek and can be easily mixed and matched.  Missy’s label is Bella Fantasique, and she designs formal and evening wear from demure to the minx.  Palette’s  label is Mooged, and she is showing streetwear with an urban flair.  Each of these ladies has invested many late nights and long hours learning how to develop avatar apparel, and we are very excited about their work and their future abilities.

In Shengri La, we are known for inventing innovative ways to present fashion — ways that capitalize on the strengths of virtual worlds rather than relying on traditional display methods.  But it is a critical part of a design student’s education to participate in a runway show, with all the excitement, drama, and anticipation that go along with it.

To that end, we are pleased to present our summer interns and their work in a near-traditional runway show in our Second Life Shengri La estate.  As is our usual custom, we have asked volunteer models to present our designers’ work.  Our models will walk the catwalk in their usual skins and shapes, with no modifications made for the clothing.

Palette’s, Missy’s and Trinity’s work may all be found in the marketplace stores in Shengri La.  These hot new talents are currently pricing their work at student rates, but the quality isn’t student quality.

We look forward to welcoming you to  these bright young talents’ first runway show (in any life).  Go with the flow to Fluid, in Shengri La!

Student Intern Runway Show in Shengri La Second Life


For the last three months, we have been working with three top-rate student interns in our regions in Second Life, teaching them the ins and outs of the emerging field of virtua design and development.  Our interns are currently matriculated at higher ed schools around the US, and log in from their geographically dispersed homes for our weekly discussion, lecture and review sessions.

Fashion design is a demanding curriculum. Our discipline demands that the student not only understand such a wide breadth of topics ranging from anatomy to textile and materials science, and then to apply those topics specifically to an array of products.  They must then be able to fully construct, with his or her own hands, those self-same products.  Fashion design students are asked to create a full collection of products including the concept board, color story, materials collections, and make sure that the collection of products actually fits (correctly) and is not just functional but correctly made and finished.

Our summer interns have been working for the last three months doing just that, using a virtual world as their low-cost, low-risk prototyping tool to develop their avatar apparel collections.  Using our avatar apparel framework, we have guided them through the design cycle from concept board, to selecting a color story, to developing a new piece every week.  We are culminating their internship with Fashion Research Institute with the fashion industry’s version of the summer intern seminar, namely a runway show where their work will be presented with live models, in a formal setting.

This is a tremendous opportunity for our interns.  As they enter their senior year at their schools, they will be required as part of their program to send an outfit out on the runway at their school’s annual runway show.  It’s part of the traditional curriculum for design students, because they learn firsthand about runway shows, and of course, their work gets recognized by their peers as they graduate.  Our interns will already have gone through the process of developing a runway show as a group project.  They have worked together to develop a coherent visual story that works as a group project.  They have styled their models from hair to accessories (provided by our talented emerging designers Tiffy Vella, Yoona Mayo, and Rosie Barthelmess) to complement their actual work.  They have chosen how they want their work to be presented.  And on Tuesday, August 25th, their hard work will be shown in a formal runway show in our Shengri La region in Second Life.

It has been an honor to work with Trinity Hartunian, Missy Lavecchia, and Palette Schuttelanz this summer.  We are delighted to present their work in their first runway show (ever!), and we hope you can join us as they show selected garments from their collections at their show, Fluid, at 6 pm PDT, Tuesday, August 25th.

Field Trip to Shengri La Chamomile Today


Please join us on a field Trip to Shengri La(tm) Chamomile, the complex, highly detailed OpenSim region located on Science Sim.  The field trip is at 7 pm EDT on Wednesday, August 19.  To reach Chamomile, create a user account on the Science Sim grid ( and follow the instructions on the ScienceSim web site to create a new login shortcut.  Then, log in, and search for Shengri La in the world map.

Chamomile currently has ~ 130,000 objects in the region. We have found that the user experience is enhanced with the MJM Lab Hippo viewer; the Linden Lab Second Life viewer isn’t up to the task of viewing a scene of this many objects.

You will be able to customize your avatar with FRI’s default avatar, John and Jane.  Simply purchase the avatar box of your choice and then drop the folder containing the full avatar onto your current avatar.

Hardware and hosting for the Shengri La estate in Science Sim is being provided by Intel Corporation as part of our year-long research collaboration.



John & Jane come to Science Sim


In order to help our guests feel comfortable when visiting us on Science Sim, we’ve brought over the FRI default avatars, “John” and “Jane”. A full avatar from hair to shoes is included in each default, which may be obtained at the Saltwater House in Shengri La Chamomile at the landing point.

Simply purchase your choice of avatar for $0. Open your inventory and look for the folder, cleverly named FRI Default (Male or Female) Avatar. Then from within your inventory drag the entire folder onto your current avatar. Like magic, you will lose the default Ruthed avatar. Of course, you may further customize yourself, but John and Jane both make good starting points for the corporate or educational user.

John and Jane are both provided free of charge as a courtesy to our guests and co-residents on Science Sim. Please visit Shengri La Chamomile to obtain your new look!