Since 1856, Burberry has been serving the clothing needs of British and then global big spenders. At the start of the 21st century, the company’s signature plaid is readily identifiable and highly regarded as a symbol of the brand's, and indeed British, craftsmanship.
Burberry has remade its London flagship — which has housed a radio station and a livery stable, among other things, over the last 200 years — into a 44,000 square foot, digitally-enhanced retail experience chock full of tech innovations, while maintaining the bespoke elegance for which the brand is known.
The store is modeled after its relaunched Burberry World website, and features “nearly 500 speakers and 100 screens” as well as other “exciting digital add-ons like virtual rain showers and mirrors transforming into runways while they browse the beautiful trench coats.”
Those digital add-ons include RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, a digitally enabled gallery, digital signage, and the tallest indoor retail screen in the world. “Burberry Regent Street brings our digital world to life in a physical space for the first time, where customers can experience every facet of the brand through immersive multimedia content exactly as they do online,” stated Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts. "Walking through the doors is just like walking into our website.”
The company has been driving a premium through its fashion-forward Prorsum collection under designer Christopher Bailey, eliminating its cheaper handbags and raincoats in the U.S. earlier this year much as Tiffany moved cheaper silver from its stores to its website. Consumers likely wouldn’t be able to notice any kind of slim down, though, from the scale of its new global flagship store on London's Regent Street, which is opening just in time for Monday's London Fashion Week show — and just as the Best Global Brand (#95 in Interbrand's 2011 report) is looking to turn around a softer-than-anticipated earnings report.
As part of its retail flagship relaunch, the music-loving brand has also incorporated its Burberry Acoustic series of performances in order to host events that can be live streamed to consumers everywhere — a move that it has been pioneering by streaming its fashion shows, including its upcoming Spring/Summer 2013 collection at 4pm London time on Sept. 17.
“We’ve tried to choreograph it so that you have content specific to certain areas, but then all of a sudden the whole store turns into one rain cloud and makes you stop and smile,” Bailey told The Business of Fashion. “It’s not just about shopping. The important thing for me is that when you go in, you feel entertained.”
The brand stewards at Burberry are hoping the place's artisinal touches, such as traditional glass-painted signage, will turn the heads of consumers and tourists that have been opening their wallets to other luxury brands, and remind them of the brand's deep heritage. “With other luxury brands such as Chanel, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, etc., what you are buying is a real point of difference,” said Jane Kellock of researcher Stylus in London, according to Bloomberg. “The range just doesn’t justify the prices.”
Bloomberg also notes that Burberry “said this week that profit for the year ending in March will disappoint investors” and that “same-store sales have fallen in recent weeks.” That’s bracing news for the plaid fans of the world. But at least they’ll be able to go be part of a 360-degree brand extension in London — and get to enjoy singing in the digital rain. Take a closer look at the reinvigorated Regent Street flagship in the videos below.
Above, Christopher Bailey introduces 121 Regent Street, London, the new Burberry World Live Flagship. The innovative space seamlessly merges the physical and digital, bringing Burberry.com to life. 121 Regent Street is a celebration of British design and craftsmanship.
Above, view the craftsmanship behind Burberry 121 Regent Street, the new Burberry World Live Flagship. In restoring the space, Bailey worked in partnership with the best of British craftsmen including master carpenters, stonemasons and metal workers. The store features bespoke bronze lanterns, beautiful stone staircases and handcrafted oak flooring.