Rumen leather tops the all-out freak factor coolness list

Every now and again we run across a new material or textile entering the apparel industry marketplace that excites an immediate reaction.  You’ll note we don’t say whether that reaction is positive or negative, just that there’s an immediate reaction.

This is in fact that case with Rumen Leather. We ran across Rumen Leather in our Materia newsletter today.  For those who don’t know what a rumen is, it may be better if you don’t read the next bit.  It’s a cow’s stomach. Moo, yes. Up-cycle a by-product into a product, yes.

Some wizard soul (Mandy den Elzen) in The Netherlands came up with the idea of tanning a cow stomach (and why not, it makes entire sense to us in a weirdly macabre sort of way given that the GI tract of an animal is basically just more skin.) Ignoring where the leather came from (the cow’s stomach) and just looking at it, we confess to being fascinated by the possibilities inherent in leather that has natural papillae all over it.  Forget velvet or fur, this stuff has legs. Well, papillae, actually.

We’re not sure how you’d deal with the ick factor – we also confess to being a bit icked out by the source of the leather itself. But the actual material does look stunning and we could envision a lot of ways it could be effectively used.  And it is unique – we’ve seen a lot of different sorts of leathers in our time. Just about any animal with a skin gets turned into leather sooner or later, from fish to toads to even turkeys, all of which by the way are incredibly cool to work with if you can get past the ick-factor of dealing with what looks like small roadkill.  But rumen leather definitely tops them all for all-out freak factor coolness.

We can imagine designing a new case for our netbook in this stuff.  It would be cushioning and a major conversation piece. “Wow, that’s a cool netbook case, I’ve never seen anything like it…what is that?”….’Cow Stomach.’  OK, so maybe that’s up-cycling a step too far, but we think this material could have real merit.

Leveraging the Power of Virtual Worlds for Collaboration

FRI publishes white papers on topics of interest. Topics can include OpenSim legal considerations; content standards; licensing concerns; virtual world immersion; and new paradigms in on-line immersive education.

This week we released “Leveraging the Power of Virtual Worlds for Collaboration“, which discusses using virtual worlds to restructure entire industries and engineer new business processes, with a particular emphasis on the apparel (fashion) industry. The information shared includes:

* Value Proposition of Virtual Worlds
* Why the Apparel Industry
* B2C Use Case – Avatar Apparel
* Collaboration Use Case – Education
* B2B Case Study: ACLA and FRI
* B2B Case Study: IBM Research
* B2B Case Study: Intel Corporation

You can pick up a FREE copy of this white paper by visiting our website. We hope you will find this information useful and we encourage your comments/feedback.

Applications Open for Summer 2010 Internship Program

Once again 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.

This course follows a collection-oriented design sequence, in which the class is expected to develop a mood board, color story, and concept boards for 6 outfits which will be developed for inclusion in a virtual fashion show, which will be designed as a group project. The course includes class work and home work and follows an aggressive schedule successfully piloted with real life fashion design students.  Students have full creation privileges in the online classroom as well as an assigned space for use for the duration of the class.  Students receive virtual tool kit resources as part of their internship.

All texture work is expected to be accomplished off line as part of the homework assignments.  Extensive resources and documentation are provided in the classroom, and students have full access to the classroom during their course.  All work is graded and receives feedback from the instructor. Students will complete 3 outfits, develop an initial label concept, and complete an initial showroom/store design. They will show their work on a runway at the final class, using their avatars as models.

Students must provide their own computer, internet connection, scanner, and image editing program(s) as well as have Second Life and Skype accounts.

Recommended text book: Designing Dreams, Shenlei E. Winkler, available on

At the end of their internships, Interns’ work will be presented in a virtual fashion runway show, with avatar 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 2009  interns’ runway show can be viewed here.


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.

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