Students Present Innovative Mall Concept at the World Retail Congress

From left: Katyana Avila, Elizabeth Matos D’Lacoste, Catrina Maguire, and Bhavika Punjabi.

A team of students from FIT’s Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology, representing the United States, developed an innovative retail concept called LIVINGTN: The Mall of the Future, which they presented in the Future Retail Challenge, an international student competition at the annual World Retail Congress. It was held in Barcelona April 25–27, with colleges competing from Australia, France, Italy, Hong Kong, London, and the Netherlands.

The FIT team comprised Katyana Avila, Fashion Business Management ‘23, from Fanwood, New Jersey; Elizabeth Matos D’Lacoste, Fashion Business Management ‘23, from Weston, Florida; Catrina Maguire, Advertising and Marketing Communications ‘24, from San Francisco; and Bhavika Punjabi, Direct and Interactive Marketing ‘24, from Seoul, South Korea.

“I am so proud of the FIT team for their work this year at the World Retail Congress,” said Fashion Business Management Professor Robin Sackin, the team’s advisor and mentor. “Their dedication and hard work on this challenge was outstanding. They represent the future of retailing, and the Future Retail Challenge gives them an extraordinary opportunity to present their real-world ideas to executives from around the world.”

The teams were challenged to select a non-prime position shopping mall in their city/country that has a closed department store anchor and a high number of empty shop units, then develop a revival plan that involves retail and other activities that will result in a return of footfall, business, and above all, a new vibrancy and relevance. This presented an opportunity to completely rethink the decades-old shopping mall model and develop bold new ideas that appeal to today’s consumer and create a different kind of destination.

The FIT team created a mall for the future that looks beyond pure commerce, connects the digital world with the local community, offers various amenities, and incorporates a holistic view of the customer’s needs (including wellness and entertainment). In the team’s plan, LIVINGTN: The Mall of the Future, the new mall is a fun and relaxing escape that also creates positive change within the community through a net-zero program, fostering local businesses, and providing educational opportunities. Technology and localization are key drivers, using data and augmented reality to create personalized experiences for the customer, as well as giving shoppers a seamless omni-channel experience. Innovation, creating positive local change, sustainability, and an experiential adventure would be at the heart of the new mall.

Judges for the challenge were Cindy Andersen, managing director of Ingka Centres; Bernie Brookes, chairman of Colette; Maryanne Grisz, global president and CEO of Fashion Group International; and Antonis Kyprianou, international franchise director of Tendam. The team from the Netherlands brought home the top honors.

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