A new collection by a newly installed creative is a big deal, especially when it’s coming out of a storied fashion brand like Burberry.
When chief creative officer Daniel Lee’s debut collection was shown earlier in February during London Fashion Week, there was no denying that Lee’s visual aesthetic for Burberry took a stark departure from his predecessor’s, for which the overall consensus had been that it lacked Britishness for a quintessentially British brand.
While Lee’s collection only began rolling out into boutiques and online in September (that’s a seven-month wait if you’re counting, granted select clientele were given early buying access), the brand had already been releasing campaign visuals progressively. It had been introducing a new Burberry visual vocabulary to act as a sort of palate cleanser before Lee’s vision physically materialised in its entirety. But visuals can only do so much, particularly at a time when people are inundated with a constant flow of them from every direction. And let’s face it, we’ve devolved to have such short attention spans that any clip over 30 seconds is likely to get scrolled past.
Enter Burberry Streets.
The street takeover series was first launched in London for a week in September, coinciding with the Spring/Summer 2024 edition of London Fashion Week. Burberry was serious about the takeover and went as far as to partner up with Transport for London to allow it to temporarily rename Bond Street station to Burberry Street station, including recolouring the roundels in knight blue—Lee’s colour signifier for Burberry. At the same time, North London’s Norman’s cafe played host to a special Burberry menu, had its interiors refurbished with the new Burberry icons, and made its run around London via a food truck.
But that’s only the tip of it. Burberry Streets is conceived to be a travelling series of takeovers around the world, with Seoul and Shanghai as planned stops thus far.
It was in Seoul that we bore witness to how the Burberry rose print and the revived Equestrian Knight Design (EKD)—two key visual elements of Lee’s first collection—peppered the entire city, especially along the hip Seongsu-dong. A precinct that used to house shoemakers and leather factories, Seongsu-dong is now considered one of Seoul’s artistic districts where galleries and cafes are found next to existing manufacturing hubs and warehouses. There’s a certain grittiness to the area, punctuated by colourful graffiti. The campaign saw Burberry Streets take over the space for an entire month, ending on 5 November.
Murals, billboards, flags and awnings featuring the Burberry rose print motif stretched across a 10-minute walk along Seongsu-dong. They seem to be presented at random. At one point, the motif sat right atop the sign for an operational leather workshop, while EKDs were spray-painted on roads. But they all pointed in the direction of three Burberry pop-ups.
The first (depending on where one set out) was at Seongsu Shoe that’s dedicated to all things footwear from the Winter 2023 collection. At the other end was the bright yellow Seongsu Bottle, featuring the colourful hot water bottle accessories that are emblematic of the collection. Both were planned as micro pop-ups to flank the main Seongsu Rose pop-up—a massive space drenched in tarp emblazoned with the rose motif. It was here that visitors got to experience Lee’s debut collection in its entirety. Imagined within a “Petal Maze” installation, the collection is segmented into categories—bags, shoes, menswear, womenswear, accessories and more—encouraging visitors to explore each English rose-inspired element of the installation to get better acquainted with the new Burberry.
To underscore the Britishness of the entire takeover, Burberry brought over Norman’s for a dedicated pop-up right next to Seongsu Rose, serving up an all-day selection of British classics. And of course, also introducing a sliver of Norman’s interior to those unfamiliar with it.
The beauty of the Seoul takeover lay in that it was a visual feast of all things Burberry under Lee, exuberantly integrated into its local surroundings. The rose motif and the EKD stood out, yes. Yet they felt like artwork that you would typically find at Seongsu-dong.
It certainly helped too that the opening event of Seoul’s Burberry Streets takeover was attended by a curated list of Korean celebrities and creative figures. Fans came in droves, armed with their mobile devices and some professional camera equipment as they readied themselves for appearances by the likes of Lee Dongwook, Lee Jongsuk, Seventeen’s Wonwoo, Burberry ambassadors Bright and Jun Ji-hyun, and of course, Lee himself.
Let’s just say, every photo taken by every single fan that evening would have included their favourite idol dressed in Lee’s Burberry and with the hard-to-miss rose motif in the background. Need we say more?