The New York based Fashion Research Institute Inc (FRI) has launched a new subsidiary to develop a product design tool to help fashion companies cut sample creation costs and time to market.

The subsidiary, called Black Dress Technology (Black Dress), is working in conjunction with IBM, FRI's technology partner, to develop the virtual-worlds-based end-to-end enterprise solution.
 
Users of the Black Dress solution will access what is described as a "fundamentally new work flow" addressing critical issues facing the fashion industry.

These include ensuring the manufacturability of designs and a substantial reduction in sample costs.

The system will ultimately take a design from concept to prototype - with every step short of actual manufacturing being done virtually. 
 
The benefits of Black Dress are said to include a simpler and more intuitive user interface, and scalability for businesses of all sizes. 

A 60% reduction in sample creation costs and time to market cut by as much as six weeks per collection are also deemed possible.

"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," said FRI's CEO, Shenlei Winkler. 

"We see our solution as finally allowing management to monitor and manage the previously unmanageable design process without disrupting the delicate creative process."