Fashion forward at Burberry social retail store

Burberry’s new site in China is the first of what the brand is calling a ‘social retail store’. Paul Milligan explores a cutting-edge fashion space.

Systems integrator proAV has been a global strategic partner for fashion brand Burberry for more than a decade, and in that time has delivered a series of retail experiences. The latest project in Shenzhen Bay, China was for the brand’s new social retail store and is the most remarkable project undertaken to date in that relationship.

The new social retail store is a testament to Burberry’s desire to push boundaries through innovation and creativity. It was designed to create the first ever luxury social retail store, creating a digitally immersive retail experience which blends the physical and social worlds.

The store was designed with areas for customers to explore, including references to Burberry’s heritage of firsts as reinterpreted by Riccardo Tisci, including the Trench Coat, the Thomas Burberry Monogram, Nature and the Burberry Animal Kingdom.


Fashion forward at Burberry social retail store

The brief was to create a space  of exploration, designed to inspire and entertain customers, a space where they can interact with the brand and products in new and exciting ways, both in person in the store and via social media. Burberry entered into an exclusive partnership with Tencent, owners of social platform WeChat, to bring social media into the physical retail environment. Through a dedicated WeChat mini programme, customers can unlock specific content and experiences to share on social media. Dedicated services were also made possible to include appointment bookings, events and table reservations in Thomas’s Cafe, the in-store café and community space.

The challenge with this project was to create a bespoke visual experience of the Burberry brand which could be shared across the WeChat social platform, engaging customers to create the first luxury social retail store. The AV project consisted of two key areas, the Trench Experience room and the physical retail store itself.

The Trench Experience was designed as a digitally immersive journey through nature, bringing Burberry’s heritage of exploration to life and creating personal content for the customer to share on social media. Technologies included 3D mapping and blending/immersive lighting, environment and audio landscape, with projection of content to the walls and floor, 360 degree audio playback, a wind and hazer effects machine, motorised crystal LED’s and addressable RGB LED’s fixed to the ceiling grid. The user interacts with the space using the WeChat Mini Program through an API.

Fashion forward at Burberry social retail store

Overhead and skeletal tracking further controls how the user and space interact. 360 degree sound is delivered using the d&b soundscape system with twenty-two 5S speakers arrayed around the wall at high level, two 18S subwoofers are mounted within the ceiling void to provide low frequency extension, these are all driven from six 10D amplifiers. The audio is played back using Ableton live 10 on a dedicated PC and is fed into the d&b DS100 digital signal processor using Dante virtual soundcard, the processor provides the soundscape 360 degree processing and also EQ for the space. The entrance door to the Trench Experience has an 85-in LCD display inset behind a two-way mirror, which acts as a means of introducing the user to the experience they will receive in the space.

Content playback is provided from a BrightSign media player triggered by the experience guide. The walls and floor have content projected using six Panasonic 4K PT-RQ22KC 21,000 lumens laser projectors mounted to the truss above the ceiling grid with five units being used for the walls and a single unit used to project the floor.

Content is played back from six dedicated PC’s running Unreal engine’s nDisplay software, these also provide the blend which is achieved using Vioso’s software and VR SIM cameras to allow full 3D mapping of the space in the MPCDI format.

Fashion forward at Burberry social retail store

The experience is controlled using a dedicated show management PC which runs the Derivative Touch Designer Software and some custom control software to link all of the various device API’s and tie this into the WeChat Mini Program. The experience start is triggered by a single button press initiated by the host. The lighting effects and motorised winches are all managed from a Pharos LPC 2 DMX controller which receives cue from the main show management PC.

A Crestron control system has been implemented to enable the experience equipment to be powered on/off using a pre-programmed daily schedule, this also forms part of the remote support setup as it can monitor all of the installed hardware and provide alerts through the Crestron Fusion management platform. Where possible all equipment has been connected to the Burberry LAN to facilitate remote support capability.

Within the store each space has its own concept to offer a different interactive experience. Technologies include ceiling and wall mounted videowalls and audio coverage throughout the spaces offering individual content. The main store comprised of three primary sales areas GF01, GF02, & GF03, four changing rooms and a community space/café. Playback is provided by six Apple Mac Minis running the Sedna digital signage platform, with BSS signal processing and Crown amplification. In GF01, GF02, and GF03, each area is treated as a separate zone to allow music set at different volume levels. Loudspeakers are the Apart Kobo 3T which are integrated into the store lighting track allowing for easy placement and directional change.

In the changing rooms each area is treated as a separate zone to allow pre-selection of the customer’s preferred playlist with independent volume control, audio is provided by Sonance IS2 speakers fitted into the ceiling to maintain the clean lines and aesthetics of the room.

The community space/café has its own dedicated music source which can also be extend to the main store. This can also be used as an events space with provision for external audio input to allow a local mixer to input the feed from a presenter, band or DJ. Audio is via Apart Kobo 3T speakers in the lighting trough and ceiling.

The visual aspect of GF01, GF02 and GF03 is covered by an LED videowall comprising 35 Unilumin U-Slim 2.5mm tiles in GF01. In GF02 a 3x4.5m ceiling videowall uses Unilumin U-Slim 3.9mm tiles. GF03 features a curved LED videowall featuring 18 Unilumin U-Slim 2.5mm tiles inset into a wall made up of 500x500m mirrored tiles.

Each wall is fed from its own dedicated Apple Mac Mini running the Sedna digital signage platform with Unilumin providing the required LED tile processing/mapping.

Overall control and monitoring of the store is provided by a Crestron control system and Crestron’s Fusion management platform with a sub layer of audio control being provided by BSS control panels and the BSS iPad app. A Crestron touchpanel is provided in the community space to provide day-to-day control of this space and also allow advanced setup of the store for an event. A dedicated Crestron button panel is provided at the centralised rack location to allow staff to turn the store on/off should they need to override the pre-programmed daily schedule, this also acts as a grand master volume controller. Two BSS control panels are also provided at this location to allow simple zone level and source selection control independently of the Crestron controller.

“I am fascinated by the balance between nature and technology, and the energy that connects the two. This store explores this relationship, blending the digital and the physical realms in an exciting new concept,” says Riccardo Tisci, chief creative officer at Burberry.

Apart Kobo 3T
BSS signal processing, control panels, iPad app
Crown amplifiers
d&b 5S loudspeakers, 18S subwoofers, 10D amplifiers, DS100 DSP

BrightSign media players
Derivative TouchDesigner software
Crestron’s Fusion management platform, Crestron touchpanels
Panasonic 4K PT-RQ22KC laser projectors
Sedna digital signage platform
Unilumin U-Slim 2.5mm LED tiles, U-Slim 3.9mm LED tiles
Unreal Engine nDisplay software
Vioso software

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