If you’re heading to the new Burberry store on Regent Street, don’t be surprised to see a band of shoppers circulating the store, open-mouthed at what the Brit brand has accomplished.
It brings bricks and mortar retail to a whole new level, so you may find yourself a little slack-jawed.
The Grade II listed 19th Century building opens officially to the public today, and its staggering 44,000 square-feet of cold marble polished perfection has been in the works for over two years. Not quite the 104 years it took to build St Peter’s basilica in Rome – and excuse the comparison – but as a cathedral to consumerism it certainly bears some pretty lofty comparisons. Pilgrims will indeed travel from far and wide to take in the four floors of Christopher Bailey’s Burberry creation.
To contextualise the gushing adjectives, here are a few hard and fast figures: the store has 25 staircases, 17 fitting rooms (wood-panelled chambers), 6 Art Deco chandeliers, 13 separate Burberry collections, 260 staff working in the store and 24,000 products housed on-site. It is, in short, mind-boggling.
But despite the gargantuan scale and the exquisite finish, perhaps the most impressive thing about the store is the underlying concept of transformation: from Burberry’s maverick digital vision into a real-world actuality.
Gigantic screens (22.5 feet tall) live-streaming Burberry events. 500 speakers subtly wended into original architecture of the building. RFID-enabled mirrors that morph into screens showing personalised content as soon as you approach them with a product. Staff members powering around the shop floor with iPads containing all of your purchasing history.
The overriding sensation of all this? Big Burberry is watching you. It’s a souped-up, hi-spec, digitally-enhanced personalisation of your shopping experience.
And if ‘The Party’ watching us is wearing a custom trench and sporting studded accessories that we’d give our right arm for, then we all want a bit-part in that vision.