See how Burberry have combined digital technology with heritage for their flagship stores.
[dropcap]F[/dropcap]rom Major Jackson’s Arctic Circle expeditions, Claude Grahame-White’s record flight over Great Britain, Roald Amundsen’s first reach of the South Pole to Captain John Alcock’s first non-stop transatlantic flight, the only thing these amazing people had in common, besides their bravery, was the trust they had in Thomas Burberry’s craft. The brand came a long way from making coats that resisted drastic flight conditions and tents that braved arctic temperatures to make their British heritage known to the entire world. So how does the Burberry brand manage to stick to its roots with the famous black, tan and red check pattern while still staying modern? Let’s not forget the British fashion empire was one of the few luxury brands that kept their profit high even during recent financially challenging years. One could say that the fashion house represents an interesting medley of tradition, represented by quality tailoring and a classic style, with a constant infusion of modernity, by implementing technological advances and digital media in their artistic endeavours. Case in point, their largest store in the world, Burberry Regent Street. It can be called a fashion store, but a more accurate description would be a playground, with it’s spectacular blend of fashion and technology. It has an extensive product selection from all the brand’s lines, but that’s not the most impressive feat. What about the magic mirror that not only pictures you wearing one of their precious items, but also shows you how that coat was made and how it looked on the runway? I imagine that’s what Snow White would do if she got hold of her stepmother’s mirror. She probably wouldn’t have an iPad though, like the staff members have here. With their help, you can easily find what you’re looking for in this gigantic store. If you’re a social media enthusiast, the store has a WiFi service for guests so you can tweet impressions, share photos of your purchases or just show the world how impressive the flagship store is. So step inside, try on a dress, chill on their sofas and watch a 3D hologram runway show while listening to some of Britain’s emerging musical talents play an acoustic set on the stage.
So what do other Burberry stores around the world have to offer to top this? This time in Sydney, the home of Burberry’s Australian flagship, mixing cutting-edge technology with the sober décor, high ceilings, imposing marble columns, benches and floors inherited from the buildings former life as a bank. Once again, there are giant video walls broadcasting high-definition content and VIP guests making themselves at home with personal iPod docks in their changing rooms. Due to its incredible success in Asia, which became one of its most profitable markets, Burberry opened a flagship store in Beijing. While the interior follows the same technologically advanced décor, the most stunning aspect is the building’s architecture. The stores I mentioned previously were all proud of their historic locations but Burberry went back to the future with this one. A large black box-shaped structure covered in the iconic check pattern and displaying no windows, just two large LED screens on its exterior walls, showing content broadcasted from their London headquarters. The launch of the store featuring a catwalk with hologram models and a Keane concert, made sure they made their entry with a bang.
The designers of the Paris store scaled down the eccentricity but still managed to incorporate the Burberry Retail Theatre (the concept defining the selection of screens and iPads spread across the store). A minimalistic glass staircase takes you through four floors of Burberry collections. The classic trench coats are still there, as is the signature check, but all the incorporated technology makes it a dynamic shopping experience. Finally there’s New York. Burberry’s 57th finding its home in a new modern building with an asymmetric façade made of stone, glass and metal, subtly referencing the brand’s famous pattern. The windows are decorated seasonally, with lights, greenery or giant snowflakes; always an eye-catching display in a sea of luxury brands. Step inside to a large dramatic staircase leading you to six floors of style. If walking six flights of stairs doesn’t sound fun, they’ve made it more tempting, by installing an optical illusion staircase that appears to be floating. The rest of the store is covered in hardwood panels, shiny skylights and glass displays with a few quirks (like a few sheep dolls spread around the store). With all the modern technology involved in their online and physical stores, Burberry probably has as many digital media directors as seamstresses. Even so, the brand didn’t forget its heritage, and they keep successfully reinventing a classic even after 157 years.