Burberry turns to Apple for augmented-reality fashion app

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(Bloomberg) -- Burberry Group Plc is the latest luxury brand to experiment with augmented reality, adding technology from Apple Inc. to its smartphone app as fashion retailers race to find new ways to engage with big spenders online.

The London-based maker of trench coats and tartan totes turned to the California company’s new ARKit function for the tool, which went live Wednesday. The augmented-reality feature interacts with users’ camera feeds to digitally redecorate their surroundings with Burberry-inspired drawings by the artist Danny Sangra.

High-end brands are increasingly focused on reaching consumers via smartphones or the web, as two-thirds of luxury purchases are now “digitally influenced,” according to Boston Consulting Group.

“Luxury brands want to propose experiences,” said Edoardo Manitto, a former executive of French retailer Galeries Lafayette who’s now an independent retail technology consultant. By blurring the boundaries between the digital and physical world, “AR allows customers to experience your brand in a different way.”

The worlds of fashion and technology drew closer when then-CEO Angela Ahrendts left Burberry to join Apple as an executive in 2014. The British company launched its mobile app, which combines an e-commerce store with interactive features about the brand, earlier this year. The new augmented-reality feature allows users to export the images they create, enhanced with graffiti-like doodles, to social media in a Burberry frame.

Other high-end players to test virtual or augmented reality have included LVMH-owned Parfums Christian Dior and Galeries Lafayette. More than 20 million users have downloaded L’Oreal’s Makeup Genius app, whose augmented-reality function lets people test combinations of beauty products on their phones.

Christian Dior Couture Chief Executive Officer Sidney Toledano said in an interview with Bloomberg TV that expanding the brand’s online presence will make customers “more prepared” when they shop at the brand’s stores.

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