Fashion icon Burberry goes digital

CHICAGO — Angela Ahrendts­ may be chief executive of Burberry, but one of her favorite accessories is an Apple iPhone5 that she hass used to oversee a mobile makeover at the 150-year-old company best known for trenchcoats and tartan plaids.

‘‘This is the biggest flagship store in the world,’’ Ahrendts said, holding up her iPhone during a recent interview in Chicago .

Burberry has long stuck to its English roots, but Ahrendts and chief creative officer Christopher Bailey in the past few years have pushed the brand’s digital, and now mobile, boundaries.


‘‘It’s very easy to allow an iconic brand to remain true to its heritage and at the same time obsolete itself,’’ said Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry analyst with the market research firm NPD Group. ‘‘The hard thing to do is keep the iconic brand relevant. This is about somebody at the helm deciding they’re going to find a way to keep the brand relevant for the future.’’

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Burberry has done that by making moves that it says attract a millennial consumer. That includes monthly updates at, where, Ahrendts said, more people visit every week than walk into all the brand’s stores around the world combined.

The company has an internal social network called Burberry chat. And since Ahrendts started in 2006 she has begun hiring a team of ‘‘digital natives,’’ with titles like mobile director and music director. The brand also has a strategic innovation council.

The Burberry website offers 10 times more online than in stores ‘‘because we say that is ‘the world’s store,’ ” Ahrendts said.

Associated Press