Burberry’s revolutionary “Makers House” and its impact on fast fashion

Burberry has always been a progressive brand—at least during the Bailey years.

Under the leadership of creative director and former CEO Christopher Bailey, the 19th century trench coat label transformed into an international empire, transcending from a British heritage brand into a multi-billion dollar institution.

But perhaps even more impressive than its large profits and vast accomplishments, Burberry has mastered the art of modernity.

Burberry's September collection on display at its
Burberry’s September collection on display at its Makers House showroom.

In 2013, the UK label maneuvered its way into the digital landscape by capturing its entire 15 minute Spring fashion show on an iPhone 5s. In doing so, the label “[paved] the way for significant changes in how they capture and share their content.”

Since then, Burberry has relied on clever uses of Snapchat and other forms of media to immerse its shoppers in a real-life fashion dream sequence.

This past week, the label took another step forward, debuting its so-called “Makers House”—a pop-up style exhibition featuring artisans from The New Craftsmen who represent the inspiration behind the September show.

Bailey called on inspiration from Virginia Woolf's novel
Bailey called on inspiration from Virginia Woolf’s novel “Orlando” when designing Burberry’s Makers House.

Although this idea of a conceptual showroom may seem novel, the practice is a fast-growing routine among retailers. By creating unique “experiences” one can only enjoy by visiting a physical location, companies are circumventing the challenges of traditional brick-and-mortar shops.

But what makes Burberry’s showroom unique is that its entire September collection was shoppable immediately after the show, meaning anything you saw on the runway could be yours in a matter of days.

In other words, it’s a game changer.

A look at The New Craftsmen's workstations inside Burberry's
A look at The New Craftsmen’s workstations inside Burberry’s Makers House.

In a world where “fast fashion” thrives and designers like Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane flee their labels under pressure, Bailey has managed to surmount the challenges of an insatiable market while expertly foraging new mediums.

Now, it should be noted that Burberry does not design haute couture or much bespoke fashions at all, and the designs it does offer are typically safe, routine products of a very conservative vision. But to its credit, ready-to-wear fashion is the industry’s golden calf.

And right now, Bailey is its Moses.

Photos courtesy of Creative Review