Burberry’s new Paris flagship on the Rue Saint-Honoré debuts the British brand’s biggest private salons worldwide, offering what it calls a “bespoke and elevated luxury in-house experience.”
The three-story boutique, which stands catty-corner to hulking Dior and Chanel locations, is the latest expression of the brand’s upscaling drive — and the first store on the continent to feature its new design concept.
“The strategy for all our flagship locations is to ensure they reflect Burberry’s position as a true luxury brand,” Gianluca Flore, chief commercial officer at Burberry, told WWD. “We want to provide the very best experience of our brand in prime locations for luxury shopping, which is where our customers are, and that is the case here.”
To trumpet the opening, Burberry has been projecting its signature check, now in a new birch brown coloration, onto buildings near such Paris landmarks as the Moulin Rouge, the Saint-Germain church, the main city hall or Hôtel de Ville, and the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine at Trocadero.
London-style taxis circulating in Paris have been wrapped in the iconic pattern, as has the new Paris flagship, cloaking the building’s Haussmannian features.
The new 8,500-square-foot unit replaces a previous flagship on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, an extension of the same thoroughfare that has lost some momentum in recent years as the Rue Saint-Honoré gained heat, attracting important locations for brands including Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, Loewe and Balenciaga, with Acne Studios opening soon.
Burberry is also present in all of the French capital’s key department stores: Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, Le Bon Marché and La Samaritaine.
In an interview, Flore highlighted historic links between Burberry and Paris.
“It’s where our founder Thomas Burberry opened his first international store in 1909,” he said, referring to the brand’s historic location on the Boulevard Malesherbes, which closed many years ago.
He called the the Rue Saint-Honoré a location that is “ideal to provide a uniquely British luxury experience to both local clientele and tourists.”
It was designed “to be a pure and bright space that acts as an illuminating gallery-style backdrop for our latest collections,” he said.
Designed in collaboration with Italian architect Vincenzo de Cotiis, the airy boutique employs the colors of Burberry’s signature check, especially beige, and incorporates many features in London that made a big impression on its Italian creative director Riccardo Tisci. These include heavy use of checkerboard and beige tiles — a wink to the material lining walls and corridors in the London Underground. Meanwhile, industrial-looking clothing rails bring to mind construction scaffolding, or British plumbing.
Burberry took over a corner location long occupied by Tom Ford, and enlarged the boutique by extending into neighboring buildings. The womenswear floor has the highest ceilings and the most floor space, with a long corridor of classic trenchcoats leading to a roomy salon for women’s shoes, a growth category for the brand.
Shoppers alight to a ground floor dedicated to accessories, particularly its Lola, Pocket, Olympia and Rhombi handbags and small leather goods, in addition to dedicated niches and counters for eyewear and scarves. Certain scarves, along with blankets and cushion covers, are exclusive to the Paris location.
A completely tiled staircase, coiling around a transparent elevator reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s in the “Willy Wonka” movie, leads shoppers up to a dedicated men’s floor, where new materials like plywood appear — a more rustic foil to the mirrored ceilings and polished brass shelves.
Pride of place is given to Tisci’s spring 2022 collection, dubbed “Universal Passport,” while more classic-oriented customers can find heritage tenchcoats.
The VIP suite, with its plush walls, ample seating and sculptural coffee tables, offers a cozy and hushed atmosphere where Burberry can host events for important clients, including collection previews or private shopping appointments, with enough room for a sizable entourage.
Flore called the new store “a destination where our customers can fully engage with our brand, see and feel our products in their hands and immerse themselves in our story, our heritage and our values.”
“We feel that we are bringing something unique to Rue Saint-Honoré through our uniquely British interpretation of luxury,” he added. “We have created a home for our brand in Paris that reflects our house codes where art, culture and fashion can collide.”
Burberry has already applied its new store concept to flagship locations at Plaza 66 in Shanghai and No. 1 Sloane Street in London, and Flore said it would continue to roll out in key markets.
The company ended 2021 with 31 stores fully renovated to reflect the new concept, and with 50 expected to be delivered before the end of March.
With 13 points of sale nationwide, France ranks in the top three markets in Burberry’s EMEIA region, which stands for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa. In this vast territory, the customer base pre-pandemic was split equally between locals and tourists.
Like other luxury brands, Burberry has intensified its focus on local clientele, allowing it to achieve double-digit growth in sales to Europeans in the third fiscal quarter ended Dec. 25. Retail sales account for roughly 80 percent of group revenues.
Burberry has been putting a major focus on full-price sales, part of a strategy to upgrade the brand and position it to play in the same arena as competitors owned by Kering and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.