The Future Retail Challenge student competition has become an established and popular part of the World Retail Congress. In 2023 it will enter its 14th year and seeks to promote future talent in the retail industry across the world.

The World Retail Congress partners with universities around the globe that are in turn supported by the industry. The Future Retail Challenge aims to promote tomorrow’s retailers, the work that these colleges do, the range of talented students they are preparing for careers in the industry and to bring the students’ fresh thinking and new ideas on retail into the Congress itself.

Up to six universities participate annually. An industry-relevant challenge is crafted by our judges and content team, and students present their ideas to the judging panel and Congress audience. The winners are then announced at the end of the Congress.


Refashioning Fast Fashion: How Fast Fashion can serve the needs of customers and the planet

Across the global retail industry there is a growing momentum from retailers to tackle the mounting challenges being brought about by the climate crisis. With pressure for the industry to change also coming from consumers, governments, campaign groups and investors, retailers are increasingly aware of what radical steps they need to take if significant change is to happen.

Retailers are now embracing the move to cut carbon emissions to net zero, looking at solutions to packaging and production and in moving towards the circular economy.

But one of the most criticised sectors of the retail industry is the fashion sector, and even more specifically, “fast fashion”. It has been one of retail’s biggest success stories in the way that it has made it possible for all consumers to buy the very latest fashion looks at incredibly low prices which has in turn encouraged people to buy frequently and in quantity. But with that success has now come a realisation that the fast fashion business model produces excess waste, enormous pressure on resources and as a result is regarded as bad for the environment and unsustainable as a business model.

Consumers too are driving change through switching to new ways of buying fashion, whether it be through resale, rental or exciting new concepts such as digital fashion and virtual fashion.

Project Retail Phoenix

The Challenge:

Against this background, the 2022 Future Retail Challenge focused on the “fast fashion” retail sector and seeks your ideas and creativity in how it can rethink its current business model in a dramatic way to become more sustainable whilst remaining fashion-leaders who serve and fulfil the demands of their customers and the planet. 

Each team selected a fast fashion retailer, researched and understood the fast fashion retailer selected, and specifically around its current policies and strategies to tackle sustainability.

The challenge was for the teams to take their chosen retailer forward five years to 2027 and to show how they would generate 25% of income from activities that reduce or replace the consumption of new physical products.

2022 Teams

ESCP Business School
Turin, Italy

University of Amsterdam

EDHEC Business School

Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hong Kong

London College of Fashion

2022 Judges

Marisa Selfa
North Sails Apparel

Antonis Kyprianou
General Manager, Franchising 

Bernie Brookes AM
Retail Chairman and Advisor   

John Atcheson
Co-Founder & CEO

Previous Teams

ESCP Business School
Turin, Italy

Annie Keying Chen
Chu-Kai Hsu
Isabelle Smith
Samantha Bornstein

Fashion Institute of Technology, New York

Alin Intravisit
Kristen Hayes
Rebecca Devine
Sam Weedon

HSE University,
 Moscow, Russia

Lev Kobyakov
Maria Kalinina
Slava Tolstenko
Victoria Isaeva

Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

Jenny Choi
Jessica Tsang
Rachel Leung
Sammi Wong

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