The SLENZ Update – No 77 , May 7, 2009


Who would have thought …

now its Avatar Apparel 101

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Buffalo State students infiltrate Second Life as part of their CAD
for Fashion Designers course in Spring 2009.

Even in straitened economic times a girl likes to look good – even in a virtual world where  its just pixels

That is the reason some clothing designers in Second Life are making up to US$100,000 a year clothing the fashionistas and would-be fashionistas, demonstrating again just how mainstream Virtual Worlds are becoming and that in the virtual clothing design world there are no geographic boundaries, with some of the most successful virtual clothing designers living well outside the continental USA.winkler-shenlei

The demand is such that the US Fashion Research Institute, a leader in researching virtual world applications for the apparel industry, has announced a course for avatar apparel designers – albeit at US$350 for 20 hours a rather costly course in New Zealand terms – for those who want  take a lead in the provision of avatar  apparel in virtual worlds.

With New Zealand fashion designers already hitting above their weight in the world fashion stakes the announcement also points to a potential  opportunity for New Zealand fashion design schools to move into the area with both the provision of virtual apparel but more importantly the education of neophyte virtual world fashion designers.

The Fashion Research Institute announced the short course for avatar apparel design for virtual worlds earlier this month. This fast-paced course takes a student from novice user to functional avatar apparel designer by building essential skills in just 20 hours of instruction. Students completing the course can go on to supplement or replace their real life salaries by developing their own virtual goods design business.

Students learn how to develop their brand (label), develop their product, and create a storefront, all without ever leaving the safety and comfort of their homes. Instruction follows best practices as defined by more than 3 years of research in immersive spaces such as OpenSim and SecondLife® as well as current apparel industry practices. The class culminates with a virtual runway show where students show their designs to an audience of purchasers.

“Avatar apparel design is becoming an increasingly important market, ” according to  Shenlei Winkler (pictured right in RL and as  SL  Shenlei Flasheart), CEO of Fashion Research Institute. “Last year, more than $5 billion in virtual goods were sold globally.winkler-flasheart-shenlei

“We have heard of designers making up to US$125,000 annually with their own virtual world label. Our course gives new designers the essential skills to effectively enter this highly competitive premium content marketplace of avatar apparel design.

Winkler’s  recent FashionCAD class, “Fashion in Second Life Learning Module” at Buffalo State College  was described  by Buffalo State College Professor Elaine Polvinen,  as ” an excellent virtual learning experience for the fashion students.

“Under Shenlei’s guidance, they quickly learned basic concepts of building and developing fashion garments in a virtual setting,” she said.

” Shenlei is a master virtual world builder and has developed and marketed successful in-world fashion labels. She also has 30 years experience as a real world designer – she is the perfect professional to present the virtual future of fashion and the opportunities it can provide for students of fashion. These are critically important concepts for all fashion students as well as fashion professionals.”

Through its subsidiaries, Black Dress Technology and Fashion Research Inc,  the Fashion Research Institute is currently developing a virtual worlds-based design and development product life-cycle management solution for the apparel industry.

The organisation believes that by  leveraging the deep collaborative power of virtual worlds, apparel industry designers and developers can save 60 percent of their sample costs, reduce their overall carbon footprint by as much as 35 percent, and cut their time to market by as much as six weeks – per collection.

Registration for the US course is here.

Ahhh well, I think, being a NZ dollar Kiwi, I will just have to continue to look for freebies *big sigh*.


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