Accredited Virtual Fashion Summer 2010 Courses


Designed for the currently matriculated student or for the returning, nontraditional student, FTT495 is a 3-credit college course taught through Buffalo State University.  Taught completely on-line, students from around the world may register for this summer course that will be offered in Session A : taught June 1-June 26, 2010; Session B: taught  June 28 -July 24, 2010;   or Session C: Taught July 26-August 14, 2010.    Teaching is focused on using Photoshop to develop fashion for virtual worlds.

Tech requirements: Fast internet connection, hardware suitable to run Second Life, Photoshop, scanner, account on and Second Life, Skype account

Previous experience: Exposure to Photoshop. Users must know the overall PS menu and be able to access the Tool menu.

Duration: 2.5 hour class times TBA by instructor [2-4:30pm EST M-F].

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (Per Credit Hour)

NY State resident
Tuition (per credit hour) $207
College fee (per credit hour) $.85
Activity fee (flat fee) $5
Health fee (per credit hour) $9.60
Athletic fee (per credit hour) $10.50
Technology fee (per credit hour) $13.50

Out-of-state resident
Tuition (per credit hour) $536
College fee (per credit hour) $.85
Activity fee (flat fee) $5
Health fee (per credit hour) $9.60
Athletic fee (per credit hour) $10.50
Technology fee (per credit hour) $13.50

Register at the Buffalo State University web site:

Session A registration begins April 7 through June 2, class starts June 1.


Session B registration begins April 7 through June 2, class starts June 28.


Session C registration begins April 7 through June 2, class starts July 26.


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 tuition.

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

About the instructor:

Shenlei Winkler (Shenlei Flasheart in SL) is a 30 year veteran of the fashion industry.  Her work spans both couture and mass market design and development for the real life apparel industry.  A successful designer, her lifetime sales of her real life apparel designs have now reached more than $70 million USD, with more than 25 million-dollar styles in her portfolio.  Her couture work has appeared extensively on stage and movie screen.  Winkler has also enjoyed success in Second Life, where she has designed fashion since 2005, with three popular brands including Prim & Proper (one of the top 400 Second Life earners in 2006), Flash & Trash, and Debutante. Her educational background includes three design degrees, including two from the prestigious Fashion Intitute of Technology.  Currently, she is the CEO and founder of the Fashion Research Institute which is focused on researching and developing virtualization technologies with particular emphasis for the apparel industry.  Her research areas include content licensing for virtual goods, virtualization of enterprise in immersive workspaces, OpenSim enterprise application development, and user immersion in virtual worlds.

More details on the Fashion Research Institute’s Blog: Spring/Summer 2010 Courses

To see work from previous students, please see:

Nolcha Fashion Business Conference, Speakers Announced

We’re excited that the Fashion Research Institute will be represented at the upcoming Nolcha Fashion Business Conference on May 20th in NYC, NY. This conference caters to independent fashion designers, retailers and related independent industry businesses; providing one full day of industry expert-led interactive panels and thought-leadership discussions with those who define business strategy in the fashion market.

I’ll be taking the stage at 12:30 to talk about Virtual Worlds and Social Networking.  Learn how fashion fits into the equation with 3D modeling, virtual runway shows and virtual fashion pieces that can not only save money, but make money. Also learn about how social networks fit into virtual worlds as an additional marketing tool for your independent business.

Early bird registration ends in just 2 days, so if you’re in the NYC area, make sure you pick up your ticket fast !

Presenting at FashionCampNY 2010 Saturday, February 20

Virtual goods are hot, and 3D is even hotter!

In this 45 minute presentation, new methods of marketing, sales and development using 3D will be showcased.  You’ll learn about a sizzling new way to showcase your work using 3D in a 24 x7 virtual fashion show. Pick your models, pick their looks, pick your runway, and then select the outfits, garments or accessories you want to’s that easy.

Want to go deeper? How about easy-to-use product demo stations, where your buyers can interact with your product offerings, changing colors and patterns.

Want even more? Your buyers can purchase your product directly from the runway; look at tech packs, or anything else you want to show them.  Your buyers are overseas or not easy to reach? No problem. If they have a web-enabled or mobile device, they can get actual videos of your product.   Join us for this visionary approach to marketing your product, and be at the forefront of trend. CEO Shenlei Winkler presents “Virtual Fashion, Real Money” in this 45 minute demonstration at FashionCampNY.

Fashion Camp is a free, volunteer-run, 2-day barcamp-style conference with workshops and presentations focused on current topics in fashion, technology, and innovative marriages of fashion and tech, including fashion tech/wearables, fashion eCommerce, and fashion2.0.

Our Accredited Course Through Buffalo State: FTT495 VIRTUAL FASHING

Our Avatar Apparel Design 101 course has been approved by Buffalo State University and will be offered for university credit the first time in June 2010 as FTT495 VIRTUAL FASHING.  The course is a 3 credit course taught during the Summer 2010 term and starts June 1 and runs till June 26.  Students register as non-matriculated students through Buffalo State University.  The credit they receive for this course may be transferred to other universities.

We will use our text book, Designing Dreams Ed. 2, which will be available on Amazon in April. We will meet virtually in our regions in ScienceSim. This is an accelerated course which meets daily for the full three week period.  Students are responsible for their own hardware and Internet access.  Students must also have a Skype account.

This is a fast-paced course which will take a beginning student through the process of avatar apparel design and merchandising.  Students should have good working Photoshop skills and know how to work with layers, brushes, styles, and effects.  Students will complete the course with a runway show of their work.  Students will be taught to develop avatar apparel using the patent-pending Black Dress Design development methodology.

Buffalo State University was founded in 1871 and has been part of the State University of New York educational system since 1948.  It is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools as well as various other accrediting institutions for selected programs.

For more information about registration, including a list of fees and tuition charges, please visit the Registrar’s page at the Buffalo State University web site.   For more specific information about FTT495, please visit the Summer 2010 schedule listing.

Patterning History: Preparing for the First (Ever!) Virtual World-Based Fashion Design Conference

As the conference organizers of the first ever virtual worlds-based conference specifically created just for the apparel industry, one of the interesting things about working on this conference is that everyone involved knows they are making history in presenting at this event.  Not only is this the first ever virtual worlds-based fashion design conference, but we have chosen to present this in OpenSim, which is an extensible virtual world platform.

There are a lot of firsts here:

* Content licensing for the architecture, graciously provided by Jon Brouchard of The Arch Network;

* Organizing 8 world-class, globally recognized speakers from the apparel industry who have agreed to pioneer into this brave new space;

* Completely developing 8 regions of premium content for the Conference

* Leveraging all of the mature Web 2.0 technologies in conjunction with an incredibly powerful emerging technology

* Presenting to a design conference to a global audience, where anyone with the ‘right’ combination of hardware and bandwidth can attend, free of charge to them.  They don’t need to travel or even to leave home!

* Defining the requirements for an event of this scope and developing a superb use case for industry conferences held in virtual worlds.

The team working on presenting this conference have been working diligently at preparing the regions and ensuring that everything works smoothly.  Shown here are images from the regions, which are open for visitors, and which will remain open after the conference.  Please remember that if you wish to attend, you must have a Skype account for telephony and a ScienceSim account for the actual conference.  You must also register; we will be processing registrations up till 10 pm on December 2nd.  You will receive a confirmation email with login directions for the audio portion of the conference late on December 2nd.

Please make sure you log in to ScienceSim in advance to acquaint yourself with the conference space, and to take advantage of the opportunity to customize your avatar.  Fashion Research Institute is providing two areas for this purpose.  The Quickstart region in Shengri La Spirit 01 enables visitors to quickly select from choices for both men and women as well as a complete ‘corporate’ avatar look.  The shopping region in Shengri La Spirit 22, where visitors can select from a wider array of clothing and other options in a full region.  Both regions may be easily reached from the initial login site by simply left clicking the touch boards placed at the initial log in site.

Everything in the conference regions are left or right click enabled, and there are ample ‘teleporters’ placed throughout the conference regions to enable easy movement.  There are 9 regions of interest, which include the conference region (Shengri La Thread)with auditorium and exhibits.  these exhibits include a poster session by Professor Suzie Norris of Southampton Solent; business services displays by Nolcha and Mythos Consultancy; and an exhibit by Fashion Research Institute.  Additional regions include shopping (Shengri La Spirit 22), intern work (Shengri La Spirit 21), an industrial design exhibit (Shengri La Pencil), an art region (Shengri La Spirit 00), the FRI virtual campus and library (Shengri La Spirit 01 and 02), and a virtual runway (Shengri La Spirit 10).  The historic large scale build Shengri La Spirit anchors the conference space and may be visited by all.

We would like to thank Mic Bowman and his coworkers at Intel Labs for collaborating with us on this project.  Their work has been instrumental in enabling the presentation of this conference for the benefit of a global audience fo fashion design students, designers, and educators.  We would also like to thank the Intel Corporation for providing hardware, hosting and ensuring visitors have appropriate bandwidth for the conference.

Please remember to register, and we’ll see you there!

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.


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 @  Deadline for application is January 15th.

Fashion Runway in Shengri La Hope

Are you a new designer or a designer who enjoys designing just for the pleasure of designing? Do you want a beautiful environment with a fully functional catwalk system, in which to show off your work?

The Fashion Research Institute has deployed a completely scripted fashion catwalk in the Second Life (TM) sim Shengri La Hope.  The location features two fully functional runways with scripted poseballs loaded with popular modeling poses and a runway walk, and scripted spotlights that follow the model as she walks the runway.  Draped canopies and curtains feature a range of draperies from which to choose.

All Grid citizens are welcome to use the runway free of charge on a first come, first served basis. Individual designers may reserve the runway in advance, and full estate management is available with 2 weeks advance notice, and depends on estate manager availability.  Estate management includes security, media stream change, estate setting changes, and privacy controls.

Visit Shengri La Hope and pick up a copy of our runway show manual and rules to use the Fashion Research Institute, Inc. catwalk.

Our thanks to Chelsie Goodliffe and Ravenn Darkstone for modelling on the runways of the catwalk.