Many of the most successful consumer companies in the U.S. have a division (or, in some cases, a member of every team) dedicated to thinking about the future and how it might impact their businesses. So it's perhaps no surprise that Burberry, too, has its own innovation group: the What If Group.
In an interview with Wired's Scott Dadich about the challenges of managing a design-driven business, Burberry CEO and Chief Creative Christopher Bailey mentions that the company has set up the group to think about the intersection of fashion and technology, tackling questions like: What happens if you put technology into fibers? And: What happens if you put chips into an accessory?
He doesn't elaborate further in the interview, but we reached out to Burberry to learn more. A rep tells us that the Group is a collection of people from across the company who meet once a month to think about the future of fashion, retail and technology. Their aim, we're told, is to come up with new ideas for the company to develop and ultimately offer to its customers. It was founded in 2009 -- the year Burberry launched its landmark "Art of the Trench" campaign and microsite, and a year before it started prompting livestream viewers to shop from the runway.
In 2012, Burberry did indeed attach chips to its accessories -- RFID chips, that is -- so that when shoppers at Burberry's Regent Street flagship in London approach one of the screens in a fitting room, specific content -- like information about the materials used in a bag, or a video showing how a skirt was worn on the runway -- appears. But Bailey suggests the company may be taking a closer look at the hardware used in wearable devices like the Intel x Opening Ceremony bracelet, or Ralph Lauren's "biometric" fabrics. Watch this space.