Style Check: London and Burberry

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 September, 2012, 10:37am

Compared with Hong Kong's pace, London can seem slow. Shops, check-outs, public transport and even the pace of escalators; I suggest you take a deep breath before stepping off the plane.

That deep breath (and maybe a handful of tranquillisers) was much needed as British Airways lost my luggage.

Ironically, it's the kind of bag packing that happens only for fashion week. A suitcase stuffed with a Givenchy bag, Bally clutch, Prada shoes, Zara Bayne leather peplum skirt, Costume National heels, Dries Van Noten pouch, Emporio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana dresses and irreplaceable vintage pieces.

Livid does not begin to describe my mood, when the 24th hour set in and I was still wearing my sandals in the rain.

Fortunately, another British institution reminded me that slick digital efficiency and top customer service can also be found here.

The fashion world has made much fuss about Burberry's new store on Regent Street. My first thought was: "It's just a shop. How amazing can it be?" But the 156-year old British label is known as an industry pioneer for effective digital strategy, and the 44,000 sq ft shop houses some 500 speakers and 100 screens, so I was expecting the unexpected.

Streaming fashion shows, interactive iPad functions and online shopping are commonplace for fashion brands, so Burberry had to do something dramatic to pique such interest. With the store's interfaces, which look more Star Trek than luxury label, it's a job well done. Products can be turned 360 degrees onscreen, and "thrown" onto walls and floors which are covered in digital screens.

Zoom into items and enlarge to larger-than-life sizes on the store walls and take images into the changing rooms with you and scale them down with the help of a mirror. You can send pictures, looks and info by e-mail or social media platforms and share them with friends. The applications and gadgets are a modern, relevant way to interact with fashion.

I recall watching a scene from the 1995 film Clueless in which protagonist Cher tries digital outfits on a computer image of herself. The Burberry experience is something akin to that, better even, except that I'd never go for the yellow plaid suit.