Burberry has made its first attempt at ‘mass customisation’ by launching Burberry Bespoke, a programme that allows people to design and purchase their own, personalised version of the company’s iconic trench coat.

Though prices are expected to start at $1,800 and extend to $8,800, those that can’t afford to buy can still create a design and share it on Twitter and Facebook, extending the reach of the programme.

Currently live in beta on Burberry.com, the service takes four to eight weeks to deliver a finished coat and will launch officially in 2012. While certain combinations won’t be allowed to ensure that the brand’s design reputation isn’t tarnished, Burberry calculates that this there are almost 12 million potential outcomes. 

Now well-known for not only pushing the boundaries in terms of engaging with people online within the luxury industry, but for brands as a whole, this seems to be the next stage in Burberry’s plan to hand more control to their customers and fans.

Just like it did with the website Art of the Trench, which provides a platform for those passionate about the brand to upload pictures of themselves wearing a Burberry coat, email to friends and appear alongside official imagery.

This year has also seen the company launch a sampling campaign for new fragrance Burberry Body on Facebook, fronted by chief creative officer Christopher Bailey. It also used holographic models for a catwalk show in Beijing in April to celebrate the opening of its flagship and rollout of interactive technology to all its stores globally. Plus, it hosted a ‘Tweetwalk’ that used Twitpic to share backstage images of its Spring/Summer 2012 collection ahead of its show at London Fashion Week in September.

All this, plus fantastic use of social media across the board and a beautifully crafted new website lends power to Bailey’s statement that; “Burberry is now as much a media-content company as we are a design company”.

While the trend grows for businesses to become publishers themselves, creating stronger content that’s easily accessible, Burberry is setting the pace and embracing this concept from every part of the business – from marketing to sales and now even product development.

As noted by The Wall Street Journal, Forrester predicts that the time for mass customisation to become a reality is finally here, since, “higher shopper expectations, the dawn of tablets and apps, and the rise of cheaper, more-advanced web technologies will make the phenomenon take off in the next decade.”