Burberry welcomes Beijing celebration

Burberry rolled out the red carpet at its recent extravaganza in Beijing, the company’s first event in China in about a decade. In celebration of the launch of its Beijing store, the innovative affair also expressed the next step for the fashion house, as it incorporates more technology to reach its customers.

All the while, Burberry has been evolving. The company has not only streamlined its operations, but has also reworked its collections to combine its traditional British style with a more hip and inventive feel.

Due to China’s incredible economic growth and status as a key luxury market, the country is an interesting choice to situate Burberry’s blowout event. Considering the more than 400 million Web surfers in China, the event was a chance to display the label’s new take on digital luxury.

“Doing this in Beijing is a big statement,” CEO Angela Ahrendts said to WWD.

More than 1,000 visitors crammed into the area in front of the stage to view the models parading around in Burberry’s fall line. Held in the Beijing Television Center, a stone’s throw from Tiananmen Square, the shindig used a variety of virtual image technologies to construct the illusion of snow and rain, including holograms, projections and animations.

The whole affair was almost unreal. Models disappeared or turned into fog or mysteriously transformed their attire, sometimes accompanied by holograms of themselves. Gigantic screens allowed the guests to see the runway from a variety of angles. Featuring the British band Keane and several celebrity guests, the entire show was streamed live on Burberry’s website and more than 200 websites and 50 Burberry stores around the globe.

“To us, this is a global event that happens to be taking place in Beijing, happens to be taking place in arguably one of the fastest-growing markets in the world,” Ahrendts told WWD. “So that was the rationale, that it was a global event. We only do things at this scale if we can touch every consumer in the world.”

One of the reasons behind the celebration is Burberry’s decision to buy back its China retail outfits. The company has already purchased 50 stores, opened new headquarters in Shanghai and upped its number of stores in China to 57. The company is hoping to make that figure 100 over the course of the next few years.

The company is also pushing digitally. Its website has been equipped to cater to Chinese-speaking individuals, and Burberry is marketing itself intensely on social networks, microblogs and online video sites in China.

Located in a luxury shopping mall in central Beijing and representing the company’s second largest internationally, Burberry’s new store features quite a few innovative features. Two huge LED screens, hung outside, show key marketing campaigns, employees are equipped with tablet computers to tie in with the company’s e-commerce, and shoppers can find unavailable products through in-store touch screens.

“I love the vehicle of technology. I love using it as a platform in which to communicate the ideas, the attitude, the spirit of the company,” Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer, said to WWD. Burberry intends to spread these exceptional Beijing store features to other stores around the globe.

Tagged in: china, burberry, online, technology, beijing, digital, virtual image,


Purple Neon/LadyLUX via WWD

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