Dame Vivian Hunt warns about overproduction at the summit attended by Tommy Hilfiger, Kris Jenner

One of the UK’s most respected economic experts warns that the fashion industry faces a crisis of overproduction and waste if it continues its current trajectory.

McKinsey and Company managing partner Dame Vivian Hunt said that fashion has a long way before it can demonstrate its commitment towards net zero emissions.

Hunt was previously named as the most powerful black woman in Britain, and one of 30 most influential people within the City of London. Recent investigations revealed that 12% of fibres were discarded at the factory floor.

She spoke out about the serious problems of overproduction and noted that 45% were sold at markdowns.

Hunt spoke at the Business of Fashion Voices conference, Oxfordshire. This summit is a two-day summit that’s seen as an equivalent to Cop26 climate talks. She was joined by Tommy Hilfiger, Kris Jenner, and other industry leaders. They watched from the front row.

Image: Dame Vivian Hunt by John Phillips/Getty for BoF Voices

Hunt explained to the audience that sustainability could be style or substance. He also said that perfection is not possible but progress can be made.

Voices is now in its sixth year and has attracted many high-profile speakers such as Stella McCartney or Alber Elbaz. It is also believed to have sparked some of the most important conversations in fashion over this decade.

The climate emergency was the main topic of the week. Other topics included equality in fashion, mental health, and cultural appropriation.

Another speaker was Dame Vivienne, a designer and activist who blamed capitalism for some problems on the planet.

She stated that the whole world is competing with itself to create better and more effective weapons in order to defend itself against our own aggression.

Westwood created a series playing cards to illustrate her point. She added, “War is a major pollution and our biggest waste. The temperature is rising. We saw at Cop that cooperation is essential for success,” Westwood stated.

She referred to Cop26 in Glasgow, and its failure “keep the goal at 1.5C alive”, accelerate decarbonisation and phase out of coal.

The Voices platform was also used by Dame Ellen MacArthur (a British sailor who became a circular fashion economy expert) to demand unity and concerted effort from everyone in the industry. She stated that “100 innovations in 100 areas does not equal a solution.”

Imran Amed (founder of Business of Fashion), is the event’s leader. He said Voices was designed to bring together fashion’s “big thinkers”, in order to make a difference. “No industry exists in a vacuum. He said that fashion is more connected than ever to the forces shaping the world.”

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