Burberry: See Now, Shop Now

©Collage / Oriane Baud

The new collection from Burberry is like a little revolution. What makes it stand out? See now, buy now and the end of gender lines.

There was a time when Burberry – as far as digital advances in the fashion world were concerned – was well ahead of the game. Without peer, exemplarily and with an impressive matter-of-factness, the traditional British label showed everyone how this ‘future thing’ goes: an always reliable live stream, a personal welcome email from Christopher Bailey (then still in his role as creative director) to all guests at the show, a collaboration with Apple Music, and last season the first attempt to sell the creations that walked down the runway immediately afterwards.

In the meantime, other luxury brands have entered the running. They’ve done their homework and are now trumping the online game of taking customer’s buying needs into consideration and tailoring their marketing and sales strategies to match. In other words: the air up there was getting thinner and thinner.

The current season was especially striking due to “See Now, Buy Now” – we saw it in New York at Tommy Hilfiger, Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren, and Hugo Boss, in London at Topshop Unique. And even at Burberry. But wait, there’s more. Veronika and I were sending the press materials we received back and forth almost in parallel. Her, on location. Me, dutifully on my laptop in front of the live stream. Two hearts taking a breath at the same time. And now let me explain how:

Straight away, four packed PDFs explain the extensively designed presentation and a realignment that had been in the works for months. Different to the years before, Burberry has taken a new location. For a week after the show, what “craftsmanship” actually and tangibly means will be on display in the so-called Makers House. Bookbinders, saddlers, embroiderers, and tailors let you look over their shoulders and/or give workshops. Readings will be held. The DNA of the brand will change organically over the years through human resources.

And this is how Burberry is putting two current “trends” authentically into practice: the consumer prefers to directly buy what they see. Gender lines are blurring. The inspiration for the now newly-named September Collection was Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando, which came out in 1928. Once also filmed by Sally Potter with Tilda Swinton in the lead role, it’s about a noble youth in the 16th Century who wakes up one day as a woman.

And so we see a 141-piece collection for men and women, the influences of the Elizabethan era unmistakable: white stand-up collars, lots of velvet, officers’ coats. On a green carpet in dim light, a lovely contrast to the otherwise daylight-flooded tent in Kensington Gardens, which was the highlight of the ensuing rain of golden confetti. Musically, the nearly 17-minute presentation was accompanied by classical music penned by Ilan Eshkeri and composed just for the event, accompanied by musicians from the British Orchestra.

Where’s the trench coat? Many were asking. And how does the make-up line fit into the portfolio of a brand that’s been around since 1856? I’d say that these thoughts are secondary when you look again, and a little closer: Christopher Bailey, now in the roll of CEO, manages like no other to take a flexible, acrobatic stand for the challenges of the zeitgeist. A microsite, which works and is flawlessly translated into German, is also included. And then again, as easy as that sounds, even that isn’t possible for many labels. We’re positively impressed, are looking forward to this new adopted path, and can hardly wait to see this wonderful collection walk by us on real people on the street.

translation: melissa frost
©Alex de Brabant

Julia co-founded one of the first fashion blogs in Germany in 2007 and became a freelance consultant for digital strategies after publishing her first book in 2010. After an eventful four years with Condé Nast working mainly in the digital department of Vogue Germany, she decided to launch her own online magazine with her dream partner, Veronika Heilbrunner. She is based in Berlin and loves to read books.