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The Fashion District, in collaboration with the Fashion Innovation Agency, is pleased to announce the launch of 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 welcome 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
this year we are 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 must feature the use of technology, and looking to solve an identified need in fashion & 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.

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1 JULY 2020

Deadline to submit applications.

W/C 7 SEPT 2020

Shortlisted finalists announced.

OCT 2020 (TBA)

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

NOV 2020 (TBA)

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

Judges & Critical Friends

Myf Ryan

Chief Marketing Officer, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Myf Ryan is the Chief Marketing Officer and Group Director of Brand and Strategic Marketing for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, with over 12 years international experience within the Westifeld group. Consumers are increasingly wanting a blended online-offline experience and while digital shopping is at an all time high, customers are still more likely to shop with brands who also have a physical presence. Myf ensures the newest concepts with market brands and best customer experience across their store portfolio around the globe. Myf will be joining Retail Futures 2020 as a judge.

Remo Gettini

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 TimeOut, 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. Born in Rome, Remo resides in Henley-on-Thames with his wife and son and two dogs. Remo will be joining Retail Futures 2020 as a judge.

Carolin Wais

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 at making the world a more entrepreneurial place by connecting students and young businesses. The conference 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 has further gained significant work experience at Siemens AG during her dual education studies where she conducted 9 internships across different areas including Performance Controlling, Purchasing departments, Sales, Project Execution, Human Resources, , Strategy and Business Unit Controlling. During her career, Carolin has worked and studied in various locations including Guangzhou, Boston, Silicon Valley, The Hague, Madrid, Stockholm, Berlin and Paris. Carolin will be joining Retail Futures 2020 as a judge.

Matthew Drinkwater

Head of Fashion Innovation Agency, London College of Fashion, UAL. Matthew works at the crossroads of fashion, retail and technology as the Head of London College of Fashion’s Innovation Agency, delivering projects that have captured the imagination of both the fashion and technology industries. Using emerging technology to alter the way that the fashion industry is making, showcasing and retailing, Matthew and his team are building a pathway for truly digital designer businesses. Most recently, he worked alongside Lucasfilm’s immersive entertainment division ILMxLAB to bring their new performance-driven augmentation technology, LIVECGX, to London Fashion Week. Matthew will be joining Retail Futures 2020 as chair of the judging panel.


Directior 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). Katie will be joining Retail Futures as a critical friend.

Mike Jackson

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. Mike will be joining Retail Futures as a Critical Friend.

Isabela Chick

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. Isabela will be joining Retail Futures as a Critical Friend.

Vivianne Paraschiv

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. Vivane will be joining Retail Futures 2020 as a critical friend.

Vanessa Podmore

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. Vanessa will be joining Retail Futures as a Critical Friend.

Alan Hunt

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 our luxury and lifestyle group, The Collective by Lewis Silkin, which was launched in April 2019.

Francesca Baillieu

Commercial Analyst, True. Francesca joined True, a retail and consumer innovation and investment firm, after gaining experience as an Investment Analyst at technology seed fund, Playfair Capital. Prior to this, Francesca spent two years working at ecommerce startup Evode Group as Project Coordinator. Francesca’s role at True is to identify innovative business to work with True’s corporate partners such as M&S, Abercrombie and Fitch, Morrisons, Shell and 7-Eleven (to name a few). Francesca will be joining Retail Futures as a Critical Friend.

Kristina Brjazgunova

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.


Applications will be reviewed by the judging panel based on four key criteria:

An identified need and/or gap in the market
An innovative concept with a clear solution

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

Strong plans for development and delivery

Exceptional entrepreneurship
Relevant industry and/tech skillset within team or the individual

To be eligible to apply for the challenge you must also:
Must be a registered business based, operating, or will pilot in London.
Must have a technology aspect to application with a solution for the retail sector.

About the Fashion District