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The Fashion District, in collaboration with the Fashion Innovation Agency, presents Retail Futures 2020: Fashion District Innovation Challenge Prize, sponsored by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.

Fashion District Innovation Challenge Prizes are designed to find innovative solutions to current industry issues across retail, manufacture & design. Retail Futures will give start-ups & SMEs the chance to win cash prizes, support, and the opportunity to pitch to some of the industry’s leading retailers & innovators.


We received applications from tech start-ups who believe that their business has the potential to revolutionise any part of the fashion & retail supply chain.

In line with Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s annual retail report, How We Shop: The Next Decade
we were particularly interested in start-ups looking to:

  • Enrich retail data & consumer choices
  • Create experiential, creative and/or “gamification” retail moments
  • Transform sustainable supply-chain & retail
  • Enhance personalisation
  • Develop localised activations & community engagement

All applications featured the use of technology and looked to solve an identified need in fashion and retail. This could include robotics and automation, artificial intelligence solutions, internet-of-things, augmented/virtual reality, technologies that converge digital and physical shopping or enhance customer experience.

This competition is now closed

Sponsored By



1 JULY 2020

Deadline to submit applications.

W/C 7 SEPT 2020

Shortlisted finalists announced.

1 OCTOBER 2020

Critical Friends Development Day where industry professionals will critique finalist's proposition across different specialisms before their final pitch.

5 NOV 2020

Closed pitching event with the finalists to industry experts from Depop, IBM, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Plug & Play & and Fashion Innovation Agency.

Judges & Critical Friends

Harita Shah

RETAIL FUTURES JUDGE | Harita Shah is Director of Brand, Creative, Media, Comms and Events at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. She has over 20 years of fashion marketing experience and oversees all creative campaigns in URW’s 12 markets, working with leading brands and talent. As a group, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield provides a unique platform for retailers, offering unique destinations for brand events and immersive experiences for visitors. Harita ensures campaigns and events are memorable, innovative and drive footfall to the largest shopping centres in Europe.

Julian Burnett

MANUFACTURING FUTURES JUDGE | Julian is a digital, technology and business transformation leader ranked in the CIO Top 40 in 2018 and has executive and C-level experience across retail, consumer products and supply chain industries. As VP, Global Markets - Distribution, at IBM he leads business in the UK covering these market sectors. Julian has held CTO, CIO and Supply Chain leadership positions at Sainsbury’s, John Lewis and House of Fraser, where he led large scale digital and technology enabled business transformation. Julian sits on the GS1 Apparel Board, is an Advisor to Retail Week Tech, and advises and campaigns with Business Disability International about the role of technology in enhancing the opportunities and experiences of disabled customers and employees. Prior to this Julian held consultancy leadership roles at both CapGemini and CSC. He is a trained coach and facilitator, a regular industry speaker and also guest lectures on Oxford Brookes University Executive MBA course, where he is collaborating on a research based book.

Matthew Drinkwater

MANUFACTURING FUTURES JUDGE | Matthew is a world-renowned expert in emerging technologies and their application to the creative industries. A specialist in immersive technologies (XR/MR/AR/VR), he and his team are building pathways for a truly digitised world. Named as a ‘fashion-tech trailblazer’ by Draper’s and a ‘pioneer and a visionary’ by Wired, Matthew has delivered ground-breaking experiences and a stunning range of projects that have captured the imagination of both the fashion and technology industries.

Remo Gettini

RETAIL FUTURES JUDGE | CTO, Depop. Since joining the business in 2019, he is responsible for driving the technology and innovation strategy for the business, presiding over the global Engineering, Technology, Insights, and Machine Learning teams at Depop. With an entrepreneurial drive, dynamic approach and natural instinct for innovation, Remo has brought comprehensive experience matured in multi-national, SMEs and start-ups to Depop. As CTO, his vision for Depop is to be an agent of change in the fashion sector and drive the evolution of commerce in the industry. Prior to Depop, Remo held CTO roles at Time Out, Jagex, Jobrapido and DWA Nova. Having received his MBA from Henley Business School, Remo has also held senior technical leadership positions at DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts and T-Mobile International. Remo received his Bachelor in Electronics at the ITIS F. Severi in Rome, and his MBA at Henley Management College.

Carolin Wais

RETAIL FUTURES JUDGE | As Venture Associate, Carolin leads the investment and sourcing activities for the Brand & Retail vertical at Plug and Play in Munich. Besides Retailtech, Fashiontech and D2C startups, she looks into Deeptech and Industrial Tech investments. She currently manages 6 portfolio companies. Prior to joining Plug and Play, Carolin graduated as the Valedictorian of her ESCP Europe Master in Management 2019 class. During her studies, she co-founded the startup conference “Traction by ESCP Europe”in 2018. The conference aims to make the world a more entrepreneurial place by connecting students and young businesses. It has hosted speakers such as Dorothee Bär, Naren Sham (Omio), Benjamin Bauer (Foodpanda), Martin Weber (Infarm) and companies like Lakestar, N26, Doctolib and Le Wagon. Prior to pursuing her Master’s degree at ESCP Europe, Carolin has worked at the global Venture Capital firm Next47 for 2.5 years, assuming a position as Investment Controller for Direct and Fund of Funds investments. She gained significant experience at Siemens AG during 9 internships across Performance Controlling, Purchasing departments, Sales, Project Execution, Human Resources, Strategy and Business Unit Controlling. During her career, Carolin has worked and studied in locations including Guangzhou, Boston, Silicon Valley, The Hague, Madrid, Stockholm, Berlin and Paris.

Viviane Paraschiv

RETAIL FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Augmented Retail Manager, Farfetch. With a background in business and fashion management and work experience between Brussels, Paris and London, Viviane has worked with renowned brands such as Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren and now Farfetch at the intersection of luxury, innovation and retail transformation. Currently, her work involves developing Augmented Retail strategies for Farfetch, which seeks to create the luxury experience of the future - the combination of physical and digital retail, enabled by data and humans, augmented by technology and the brand DNA. She works closely with various internal teams within the Farfetch Group to align projects, progressing together towards the retail opportunity of the future for Farfetch.

Kristina Brjazgunova

RETAIL FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Kristina is a business designer within YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP’s Customer Solutions Research & Development team. She specialises in shaping solutions that leverage cutting edge technologies to bring value to the customer. Her expertise lies in business model and service design, design thinking and technology delivery. Her background is in digital consulting and communications technologies.

Vanessa Podmore

RETAIL FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Founder, Podmore Consulting. Vanessa started her career as a production management trainee at Clarks Shoes in Somerset and progressed through various production and sourcing roles in the UK and overseas at Coach, Pentland brands, Jimmy Choo and Burberry. In her final role as VP of Supply Chain Sustainability at Burberry she was able to cement her belief in the power of good sourcing practice as a route to better social governance in supply chains. Now consulting across a range of strategic supply chain issues within the fashion sector she brings practical sourcing skills and experience to some of the day to day challenges of running a responsible supply chain. She also works with leadership teams as they navigate the challenges of aligning sustainable practice with commercial reality.


RETAIL FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Director of Brand Engagement, Stylus, Katie Baron is a journalist, author & futurist who specialises in defining and predicting the intersections between technology, pop culture and consumer behaviours. An inaugural member of London College of Fashion’s Digital Anthropology Laboratory think-tank, she’s currently Head of Retail, Trends, Insights & Innovations, at global futures agency Stylus, and contributes to Forbes on the topics of retail innovation and brand culture. She’s also authored two books on visual culture – Stylists: New Fashion Visionaries (2012) and Fashion + Music: Fashion Creatives Shaping Pop Culture (2016).

Alan Hunt

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Alan specialises in commercial and IP law and provides advice to clients across a wide range of sectors including retail, fashion, hospitality, media and technology. He has experience in the protection and exploitation of IP rights and the drafting and negotiation of commercial and technology agreements. Alan is a founder of Lewis Silkin’s luxury and lifestyle group, The Collective by Lewis Silkin, which was launched in April 2019.

Isabela Chick

RETAIL FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Isabela Chick is the Managing Director of the Retail and Beauty sectors at Founders Factory. Every year she leads thirteen early-stage investments and delivers unique partnerships with multi-billion dollar companies. Prior to Founders Factory, she was Head of Business Innovation at Telefonica. She has worked in brand strategy in London and New York and she began her career in architecture at Foster+Partners.

Mike Jackson

RETAIL FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Mike is an Entrepreneur who built and sold his business in London and then moved to Bristol to found his own tech incubator and became an active local investor and mentor. In 2018 he took on a national role as Entrepreneur Success Director at Tech Nation responsible for rolling out a UK wide network of support for ambitious tech entrepreneurs through local activity and national growth stage and sector specific programmes.

Roberto Battistoni

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Roberto is the Solutions Lead in Consumer Products for IBM working across retail and supply. Roberto’s role covers business development, innovation and sustainability; he shares his focus and passion between start-ups and established enterprises in equal measure. As part of the Distribution and COVID-19 response leadership sales team, Roberto is responsible for identifying innovation initiatives that could be significant for the industry and for IBM. Roberto has spent ~20 years working in Consumer Products, covering a variety of roles from Account Management to Project Management through to leadership. A contributor to Retail Week on the topic of sustainable purpose and technology Roberto is also a member of TLA Retail Tech and TLA Circular Economy.

Dominic Rose

RETAIL FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Dominic Rose is the COO of Depop, the fashion marketplace for the next generation. Having joined the business in 2018 he leads the community experience, finance, commercial & international teams and worked closely with the CEO to close a $62M Series C round in June 2019, led by General Atlantic, helping the business to grow to 250+ employees in five offices worldwide.    Prior to Depop, Dominic spent four years at ASOS as Director of Strategy and previously held roles at NetJets, All Saints, Josh Wood Colour, as well as co-founded ArtStack, the largest online social platform to discover and share art. Having graduated from the University of Cambridge, Dominic started his career as a consultant at Bain & Co.   Born in London, Dominic resides in his hometown with his wife and two children.

Matt Chandler

RETAIL FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | After working in Alternative Finance at Triple Point, Matt went on to co-found a real-time bookings platform catering to the male barbering sector. Matt now supports True’s retail partners with innovation strategy, and works on deal flow for True’s seed fund.

Andrea Crump

RETAIL FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Andrea leads on circular fashion at LWARB. Her role includes developing new strategies and policies to help London move to a circular economy and delivery of a range of projects with corporate fashion companies. Current projects include working with Adidas and Farfetch to bring circular business models to market. Andrea was previously head of the sustainability team at the London Borough of Sutton, delivering a wide range of sustainability programmes. She started her career focusing on marine pollution and beach litter. Andrea is a Chartered Environmentalist and has a Masters in climate change.

Lamia Sbiti

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Lamia Sbiti is a Senior Business Advisor supporting London-based SMEs go circular as part of the Advance London programme. She wants to live in a world where all business is regenerative, and is committed to making that happen. Prior to joining LWARB she has nearly 10 years’ experience advising organisations of all size and sectors re-design their services to deliver business and environmental benefits. A zoologist by training and published illustrator, Lamia applies scientific, commercial, and creative skills to prove that a circular form of business is viable.

Criteria, Eligibility & Terms and Conditions

Registered businesses based or operating in London, or intending to pilot the initiative in London were eligible for this Challenge Prize. Applications were assessed on the extent to which they satisfy the following criteria:

Is there an identified need and/or gap in the market?
Is it an innovative concept with a clear solution?

Does it have a USP and stand out from others currently in the market?
Is it addressing a growing market and a future opportunity?

Are there strong plans for development and delivery?

Is there exceptional entrepreneurship?
Is there relevant industry and/tech skillset within the team or the individual?

This prize is promoted by Fashion District, London College of Fashion, UAL, 20 John Prince’s St, London, W1G 0BJ