Social Study

Burberry’s latest boutique goes beyond the phygital space.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Burberry’s latest boutique goes beyond the phygital space. 

Burberry has been a pioneer in building phygital luxury stores since 2012. These boutiques meld the physical environment with digital experiences and use technology such as radio-frequency identification tags attached to products that trigger specific multimedia content on nearby screens.

Eight years on, with an estimated 3.6 billion people on social networks, the brand is leading the way in incorporating social media into its stores – this time with the help of Chinese tech giant Tencent.

On July 31, the brand inaugurated its new boutique in MixC Shenzhen Bay, Shenzhen’s latest retail development, marking the first step in its exclusive partnership with Tencent and luxury’s first “social retail” store. Using a specially created mini programme within Tencent’s social media and messaging platform WeChat, customers can book their preferred changing room in advance, make reservations at the store’s in-house restaurant and unlock exclusive content and experiences that can be shared with their online communities.

Unsurprisingly, several of these experiences involve the opportunity for stylish selfies (all the better for sharing on social media). One is The Trench Experience, a room with a “digitally immersive journey through nature” inspired by founder Thomas Burberry’s quest to create a breathable and waterproof fabric. The room can only be unlocked when a customer has earned enough “social currency” through interacting with the brand in the store and on the app. Even the digital menu at the store’s eatery, Thomas’s Cafe, is dynamic. The more you engage with the brand, the more menu items are unlocked.

My Reading Room


Celebrating 50 years in the business and looking as natty as ever, British fashion designer Paul Smith launches his monograph next month. Wrapped in a colourful cloth cover – with a striped motif, of course – the book focuses on 50 different objects that shed light on the designer’s many inspirations. These objects run the gamut from everyday items such as matchboxes and green apples to design classics like the elongated Toio floor lamp, helping to tell the story behind the timeless and playful appeal of Smith’s creations.


Since many of us aren’t spending as much time outside as we used to, smaller leather goods make more sense. Enter the latest downsized offerings from Celine, including its Triomphe Canvas Phone Pouch (pictured above) and the Maillon Triomphe Wallet on Chain. The canvas of the former updates the brand’s historic monogram that debuted in 1972. It features a link motif inspired by the chain around the Arc de Triomphe. The pouch holds a phone and two credit cards. What else do you need when you head out these days anyway?


If you’re a fan of Salvatore Ferragamo or miss the Eternal City, the brand now invites audiences worldwide into its newly renovated boutique on Via Condotti in Rome. The Augmented Store 360 experience allows shoppers to virtually move from room to room, interact with and access information on the products, and even place orders. The brand has also added a dose of culture into the experience by letting visitors explore the Ferragamo Museum in Florence to check out sections of the current Sustainable Thinking exhibition.