Among luxury fashion brands, Burberry is the undisputed leader in embracing digital. While its competitors are still tip-toeing in, Burberry dove head first back in 2009, dedicating marketing dollars to social media and launching the “Art of the Trench” minisite, which invites the public to submit photos of themselves in Burberry’s iconic jackets. The company became so good at mixing online and offline that in 2013 Apple hired away its CEO, Angela Ahrendts.
Burberry continues its digital pioneering today under Christopher Bailey, its current CEO and creative director. Just days after revealing that it will be the first brand to launch a channel on Apple Music, the brand announced that it will premiere its new collection for London Fashion Week via Snapchat.
Beginning at 7 pm London time this Sunday (Sep. 20)—one day before the collection hits the runway—Burberry’s Snapchat followers will see the garments “as finishing touches are being made, captured live from the Burberry design studio in London,” according to a press release. “The entire show will then disappear after 24 hours.”
Snapchat will also cover the runway show in its “Live Stories” series, which offers a candid look at live events (and figures prominently in Snapchat’s revenue stream).
Snapchat has nearly 100 million daily users, which is substantial but nowhere near the influence of Facebook or Instagram. More importantly, it’s the youngest major social network, with the greatest share of users between 18 and 34. Burberry’s collaboration with the company, and its emphasis on digital overall, show it’s not just thinking about now. It’s also building a relationship with people who could be shopping its products in a few years.
Burberry isn’t the first brand hoping to capitalize on Snapchat’s audience. For its recent cruise 2016 collection, Louis Vuitton shared content on its own Snapchat account. But not everyone sees apps like Snapchat as the best fit for luxury labels.
“For Snapchat, I completely see the value in terms of reaching a younger demographic and it’s great for publishing, but from a luxury brand perspective, I don’t personally think it’s the best marketing tool,” Danielle McGrory, the vice president of digital at KCD Worldwide, a leading fashion PR firm, recently told W Magazine. “The way that the content disappears just seems silly to me. Also with Meerkat and Periscope—luxury brands like beautiful content and I don’t care to tune into a live stream via a tweet of a fashion show.”
It’s a fair point, but Burberry’s Snapchat collaboration makes sense for another reason: It actually functions as a preview. Because the images disappear, unless people want to take screengrabs of everything they’ll have to check out the runway show to see more of the clothes.
And Burberry is readying plenty of digital avenues for those that do. “As well as Snapchat, viewers globally will also be able to experience the show live through video, imagery and music across multiple Burberry platforms including Burberry.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, LINE, Kakao and WeChat,” the company said.