Following two years of renovations, Burberry is set to unveil a digitally integrated, 27,000-square-foot flagship store on Regent Street in London.
The flagship, by Burberry’s description, has seamlessly integrated technology throughout. Full-length screens wrap the store, transitioning between audio-visual content displays, live-streaming hubs and and mirrors. At times, models will walk between video screens, mimicing the “Burberry World Live” experience staged in Taipei in April (see below). The sight and sound of rain will start quietly and build into a downpour, climaxing in a thunder crack that will show on every screen and echo in every space in the store, including fitting rooms.
Perhaps the coolest bit of technology is Burberry’s use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips. Chips have been attached to certain clothes and accessories so that when a customer approaches one of the screens in the common areas or in a fitting room, specific content — say, information about a bag’s stitching and craftsmanship, or a video showing how a skirt was worn on the catwalk — will appear. The chips will be attached before products leave manufacturing centers to assist with inventory tracking and management as well.
Models will walk between screens, mimicking the “Burberry World Live” experience staged in Taipei in April.
All store associates will be armed with iPads containing a log of customers’ purchase history and preferences to enable a more personalized shopping experience. Customers will be invited to check out from portable checkout systems or fixed cash registers — a set-up that was no doubt inspired by Apple.
The aim of these efforts, says Burberry chief creative officer Christopher Bailey, is to bring its online brand environment, Burberry.com, “to life in a physical space for the first time.”
It’s an interesting contrast: A 156-year-old brand in a 192-year-old building, with a very futuristic feel.
“It’s a space that is defined by contrasts,” Bailey explains. “I feel that contradictions are somewhat intrinsic to our brand — we sometimes describe Burberry as a young old company; it has an incredible history, but with a very young spirit and energy. These contradictions also permeate throughout Regent Street, whether through the merging of craftsmanship and technology or the grand, imposing space that is very intimate at the same time.”
We’ll see what else Burberry has up its sleeve when it debuts its S/S 2013 collection for London Fashion Week on Monday.