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COVID-19 has caused huge disruption to retail; while many categories online have seen a major sales boost, fashion found itself on the wrong side of the demand divide. At the same time, the economy is suffering and spending habits are changing, meaning that for some the luxury of buying fashion items is under greater pressure.

Overall growth was suppressed in 2020, with demand for formalwear falling away completely while lounge and sportswear boomed. Fashion Connect will look to unravel what 2021 holds for the industry and how retailers should restructure their propositions to emerge from the pandemic on solid foundations.

The agenda features data-led presentations from IMRG on the latest trends we are tracking, plus engaging retailer keynotes from some of the biggest brands.

Fashion Connect aims to rebuild the fashion industry with knowledge sharing, best practice, thought leadership and virtual networking.



09:00 - 09:20: What’s wrong with fashion? Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director, IMRG
Fashion was the most prominent category to be negatively impacted by COVID, but even before the outbreak problems were very evident. As we start to rebuild in 2021, what are these issues and how can they be overcome?

09:20 - 09:30: Insight on developing online strategies (TBC)

09:30 - 09:50: Retail keynote

09:50 - 10:10: Panel Discussion - Where are the opportunities for growth?

  • How should retailers prioritise investment?
  • How should fashion retailers position their brands?
  • How can retailers meet customer expectations?

10:10 - 10:30: Deep-dive analysis of clothing performance over peak – Matthew Walsh, Director of Data and Retail, IMRG

This session will look in detail at the trading patterns during Black Friday and Christmas for the online clothing categories IMRG track. What does this tell us about how demand is evolving in fashion?

10:30 - 10:40: Insight on developing online strategies (TBC)

10:40 - 10:50: Insight from Capgemini

10:50 - 11:10: Panel Discussion - How is customer behaviour evolving? with Camilla Tress, Connected Commerce Lead, Oliver Bonas

  • What impact has COVID had on fashion shopper behaviour?
  • How are shoppers’ expectations of fashion brands evolving?
  • What constitutes a best-in-class service today?

14:00 - 15:00: Virtual roundtable: Evolving your strategy (fashion retailers) - Invitation Only
2020 will go down as the year that retail changed. Many product categories found their sales growth rocketed online, but clothing was negatively impacted – demand was instead stripped away. Now that fashion retailers are having to rebuild from a low starting point – in a year where the economic fallout from COVID is really likely to hit – where should retailers put their focus to ensure they succeed?

15:00 - 17:30: Cocktail mixing masterclass - Invitation Only

09:00 - 09:20: What are fashion retail sites good at? – Matthew Walsh, Director of Data and Retail, IMRG

Which marketing channels are most effective at driving visitors to fashion retail sites and, once they are there, what best practice exists in converting them?

09:20 - 09:30: Insight on customer delight (TBC)

09:30 - 09:50: Retail keynote - Kate Parkinson, Head of Digital Customer Experience, The White Company

09:50 - 10:10: Panel Discussion - Attracting and converting fashion customers

  • How should fashion retailers approach their marketing strategies?
  • How can fashion retailers convert visitors into customers?
  • What best practice in site optimisation exists?

10:10 - 10:30: What propositions do fashion retailers offer their customers? Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director, IMRG

IMRG have been tracking the websites of 120 fashion retailers since the COVID outbreak. This session will look at which options they offer, and cross-reference with performance. It will also look at discounting patterns.

10:30 - 10:40: Insight on customer delight (TBC)

10:40 - 10:50: Insight on inspiring customer loyalty

10:50 - 11:10: Panel Discussion - Strategies for customer retention with Meghan Lewis, Head of Ecommerce, Skinnydip

  • How can fashion retailers retain newly acquired customers?
  • How should fashion retailers market to existing customers?
  • What loyalty programmes should retailers run?

14:00 - 15:00: Virtual roundtable: Marketing and customer communication (fashion retailers) - Invitation Only
COVID has created very testing times for retail businesses, with demand being stripped away entirely from some product lines and others experiencing huge surges in demand. Now, in 2021, the economic situation is likely to make it a very tough year; how do these factors influence your marketing strategy and how you communicate with your customers?

15:00 - 17:30: Directors wine club - Invitation Only

09:00 - 09:20: Which customer behaviours have the biggest impact on return rates? – Matthew Walsh, Director of Data and Retail, IMRG

This brand new IMRG study will look at the elements that make up returns propositions – such as whether delivery and returns are free and number of returns options – and cross-reference with behaviours (such as do late ordering or multi-size purchases trigger higher return rates) to see which have the biggest impact on overall rates. 

09:20 - 09:30: Insight on operations (TBC)

09:30 - 09:50: Retail keynote - what is the true cost of returns? - Gavin Mills, Profit Erosion and Data Mining, River Island and Dr Regina Frei, Operations and Supply Chain Management, University of Southampton
Analysis of how to understand all the hidden costs associated with processing returns – and what can be done about it.

09:50 - 10:10: Panel Discussion - What does a best-in-class delivery experience look like?

  • What do customers want from delivery and returns?
  • What examples are there of best practice?
  • Where are the areas that still need to improve?

10:10 - 10:30: In-depth analysis of clothing and sub-category performance over past 12 months – Matthew Walsh, Director of Data and Retail, IMRG

Now it has been almost 12 months since the UK went into lockdown, what trends did we note from that period and how well set up do the clothing categories look to rebuild? This session will also include the latest week’s sales performance update.

10:30 - 10:40: Insight on operations (TBC)

10:40 - 10:50: Insight on improving environmental performance

10:50 - 11:10: Panel Discussion - What trends are going to define 2021 in fashion?

  • Is it still all about navigating the pandemic?
  • What are the early trends emerging?
  • Where should retailers focus their attention?

14:00 - 15:00: Virtual roundtable: Achieving excellence in delivery propositions (fashion retailers) - Invitation Only
One of the major impacts bought about by COVID has been huge disruption to delivery – with the doorstep experience changing completely, delays to orders becoming common due to online volumes and click and collect usage falling away. What do retailers need to do to update their delivery offer and ensure it meets with highly demanding customer expectations?

16:00 - 17:00: Networking session

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Keynote Speakers

  • Matthew Walsh

    Matthew Walsh

    Director of Data and Retail | IMRG

    Matthew is responsible for all of the data and market reporting that IMRG publish. He produces the IMRG CapGemini Retail Index which is the largest and longest running eCommerce benchmark in the UK.

    Matthew also regularly provides data presentations to our retail members explaining the latest trends in ecommerce. Matthew is the first point of contact for our retail members.

    He has valuable retail experience having worked as an analyst for a top UK retailer and at one the largest online marketplaces in the world.

  • Andy Mulcahy

    Andy Mulcahy

    Strategy and Insight Director | IMRG

    Andy has worked at the heart of the online retail industry since 2010 – researching and producing reports on trends and developments affecting the sector.

    During that time, Andy has developed strong knowledge in multiple areas of online retail, with particular expertise in Black Friday. Andy will reveal the latest data and trends we have been tracking in our sales index.

  • Kate Parkinson

    Kate Parkinson

    Head of Digital Customer Experience | The White Company

  • Meghan Lewis

    Meghan Lewis

    Head of Ecommerce | Skinnydip

  • Camilla Tress

    Camilla Tress

    Connected Commerce Lead | Oliver Bonas

    Camilla is Connected Commerce Lead at Oliver Bonas, an independent, British lifestyle retailer, designing their own take on fashion and homeware, with stores across the UK and a strong online presence. During her time at Oliver Bonas, Camilla has overseen a number of key initiatives that have contributed to the growth of the website. The next phase for growth is building a fully unified shopping experience with the customer at the centre.

  • Gavin Mills

    Gavin Mills

    Profit Erosion and Data Mining | River Island

    Gavin is the Profit Erosion and Data Mining Manager for River Island and has worked there for the last 4 years. Gavin has spent the last 20 plus years working in Retail Loss Prevention. Part of his role within River Island is looking at Profit Erosion and his main focus has been on returns.

  • Dr Regina Frei

    Dr Regina Frei

    Operations and Supply Chain Management | University of Southampton

    Dr Regina Frei is a researcher and educator in Operations and Supply Chain Management. She leads the Product Returns Research Group ( at Southampton Business School, which she joined as an Associate Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management in September 2019. She is passionate about sustainable value chains and the Circular Economy.

Register Below

Event Date 9th Feb 2021 to 11th Feb 2021
Event Time 09:00 - 17:30 daily
Location Online