Why Burberry rules London Fashion Week

Burberry is an awesome brand.

Not just because it is one of the chief reasons London can lay claim to being the world’s fashion capital right now. Not just because CCO Christopher Bailey comes across as such a lovely, down-to-earth chap. And not just because their spring/summer 2012 collection includes such gems as this gorgeous lapiz crochet trench coat.

Burberry may be ‘the biggest luxury brand in social media’ (thanks to a wide-reaching use of social technologies, its own social network ,and a huge number of fans and followers) but that doesn’t impress as so much as how the brand is using those tools and engaging that community. For example:

“You have to create a social enterprise today; you have to be totally connected with everyone who touches your brand. If you don’t do that, I don’t know what your business model is in five years.”

Amen Angela Ahrendts, Burberry CEO.

Burberry has been executing lots of socially switched-on projects over the past few years, for example: Art of the Trench, a crowdsourced photography site where customers share images of their favourite coats; a holographic film immersion for its launch in China; and allowing customers to shop direct from 3D catwalk livestreams and in-store iPads.

In February, Burberry livestreamed their autumn/winter 2011 womenswear show from Kensington Gardens onto the famous 32m screen in Piccadilly Circus – which was viewed by over one million people online in more than 185 countries. And this week the brand continued the trend at London Fashion Week (#LFW) with a detailed social strategy:

  • premiering its catwalk collection on the ‘Tweetwalk’ so their Twitter followers see the clothes before the actual show
  • livestreaming the show itself in HD with backstage exclusives, embeddable on your own Facebook page or mobile
  • handing Burberry’s fantastic Instagram account over to photographer Mike Kus, the most-followed Instagram user in the UK, for the duration of the show
  • releasing the show’s soundtrack as an album on the iTunes on-demand service
  • selling the collection direct for a week after the show on Burberry.com and through ‘retail theatre’ events nationwide

This isn’t wildly innovative stuff, but it is situated in an innovative context – the traditionally closed and elitist world of couture. Burberry evidently refuses to believe that transparency will kill the aspirational desirability of its brand, and persists in democratising its experiences for more than a handful of underfed editors.

Social media has become an integral part of fashion weeks the world over, and we’ve done our bit to help our clients join in. The coup here is that Burberry’s prolific social tactics appear to be genuinely rooted in a commitment to sharing, providing immersive experiences, and putting the everyday fashion lover – not just the moneyed few – at the heart of everything it does.

Now that’s worth raising a lychee martini (or four) to.

Molly Flatt