World Retail Congress 2019


Future Retail Challenge

Future Retail Challenge

The Future Retail Challenge student competition has become an established and popular part of the World Retail Congress. In 2022 it will enter its 13th 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 will focus 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. 

To begin your challenge, each team will select a fast fashion retailer: ideally one that is headquartered in your country, but this isn’t obligatory, and it can be either online only, brick and mortar only or “omnichannel”.

Research and understand the fast fashion retailer you have selected, and specifically around its current policies and strategies to tackle sustainability.

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

Previous Judges

Alexandra Waldman
Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer, 
Universal Standard

Antonis Kyprianou
General Manager, Franchising 

Bernie Brookes
Former CEO

Michelle Feeney
Floral Street

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

Previous 2019 Judges

Bernie Brookes
Former CEO |

Dame Twiggy Lawson, DBE

Antonis Kyprianou
General Manager, Franchising |

Catherine Mahuga
Founder |

2019 Winning Team

Hong Kong Polytechnic won with their inspiring "Rebel Retail" project that was based on the iconic figure of Neil Amstrong. 

2019 Teams

Fashion Institute of Technology

New York

Fashion Retail Academy


Avans University of Applied Sciences


Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Hong Kong



ESC Europe