A cut above the rest: digital goes haute couture at Burberry

The term ‘heritage brand’ doesn’t necessarily evoke futuristic imagery but in the case of British fashion house Burberry, at this season’s London Fashion Week, it was clear that this is a brand looking forward, not merely blowing dust off its past glories.

Before the show commenced, I tweeted the label asking if we could expect digital fireworks. The response didn’t come until a day later: unsurprisingly when one saw the digital content on display both at the show and, more importantly, disseminated virtually throughout the social media space.

I’ve written before about the missed opportunity that fashion, in particular, has experienced within the digital sphere, with notable exceptions such as designer Hussein Chalayan, but Burberry wasn’t measuring itself against the fashion yard-stick this season, rather the hard-line required for a more stratospheric trajectory in the galaxy of those stellar, super-brands.

The key to successful digital marketing is sharing, and share Burberry did.

In addition to live video streaming to its eight million fans on Facebook, with additional content being shown on the brand’s YouTube channel, Burberry really innovated this week.

Partnering with social networking platform Twitter, the world’s first ‘Twitterwalk’ was established, combining a description and Twitpic of each look before it took to the catwalk, resulting in the brand trending globally.

In addition, top photographer Mike Kus was asked to take over the Burberry Instagram site, uploading backstage shots, catwalk looks and front-row-celeb snaps, all of which could be passed around the web, amongst those sartorial followers and beyond.

One of the key risks for a strategy that included so many facets was the marginalisation of the product that was being marketed, itself. But at the centre of each piece of online content came the clothes and accessories, ensuring the main story being shared always came back to the heart of the brand, ultimately its heritage.

It seems ironic that an industry filled with such trail-blazers missed acting upon the digital trend earlier, but it was perhaps this missed trick that allowed arrogance to prevail in a business that claims to set trends rather than follow them.

Thankfully, however, with the bar set so high this season by such a fashion giant, others will hopefully follow and innovate themselves, which fills me with great excitement as to what we can look forward to at the Autumn/Winter 2012 shows next year.

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