Our next Designer Profile is a name from the books of history with a pretty complicated past and a thriving present. Today we are talking about German label Hugo Boss – the worldwide retailer of a glamorous yet elegant professional wardrobe.
We all know Hugo Boss for its perfectly tailored outfits that bring timeless elegance to our workwear wardrobe – whether we are talking about structured workwear dresses, chic skirts with an edge or tailored trousers, Boss outfit is leading the lane of the working women’s wardrobe. Many European royal ladies including Queen Letizia of Spain, Princess Mary of Denmark are among the loyal clientele.
The company has come a long way from its not-so-proud history to become a name that is bringing the best of the style pieces to the fashion industry. The label was established by Hugo Ferdinand Boss in 1924 in Metzingen, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in Germany.
A bit about the man whose legacy we are seeing today
The youngest of five children, Hugo did an apprenticeship as a merchant, completed military service from 1903 to 1905 and worked in a weaving mill in Konstanz. He then took over as the heir to his parents’ lingerie shop in Metzingen in 1908. In that year, he also married Anna Katharina Freysinger with whom he had a daughter. In 1914, he was mobilized into the army and he served through World War I with the rank of corporal.
Hugo founded his own clothing company in Metzingen in 1923 and then a factory in 1924, initially with two partners. The companies produced shirts and jackets and then work clothing, sportswear and raincoats. In 1931 due to the country’s economic situation, Boss went bankrupt after which Boss had an agreement with his creditors that left him with six sewing machines to re-start. Hugo Ferdinand Boss was born in 1885 and died in 1948.
The company current headquarter is still in Metzingen with 1100 retail stores worldwide.
Boss’ involvement with Nazi
Boss joined the Nazi Party in 1931, two years before Adolf Hitler came to power. With the rise of the Nazi Party in the 1930s, Boss began to produce and sell Nazi uniforms. Boss would eventually supply the wartime German government with uniforms for organizations such as the Hitler Youth and Waffen-SS, resulting in a large boost in sales. The Hugo Boss company produced these black uniforms along with the brown SA shirts and the black-and-brown uniforms of the Hitler Youth. The company forced some 40 French prisoners of war and 140 forced workers kidnapped by the Gestapo from Poland into labour in its production of Wehrmacht uniforms.
After the WWII, at the de-Nazification court hearing Boss was initially labelled as the supporter of National Socialism that led to the removal of Boss’ voting rights and capacity of running a company along with a heavy penalty. Later on, after an appeal, he was re-labelled as a “follower”, a category with less severe punishment.
In 2011, the company issued an apology for its maltreatment of forced workers during World War II when it supplied the Nazis with uniforms. The company commissioned the publication of a new history of the company during the Hitler years. The company made a contribution to the international fund set up to compensate former forced labourers.
Out of respect to everyone involved, the Group has published this new study with the aim of adding clarity and objectivity to the discussion. It also wishes to express its profound regret to those who suffered harm or hardship at the factory run by Hugo Ferdinand Boss under National Socialist rule.
Find more about company history here.
Post Nazi Journey of the label
As Boss was banned from owning or running the company, his son-in-law Eugen Holy took over ownership and running of the company. In 1950, the company received its first order to produce Men suits. By 1960, the company was running successfully and was producing readymade Men suits. After Holy’s retirement his sons Jochen and Uwe took over the company.
The brothers made the German label a worldwide brand. The company made the first Boss suit in 1970 and got it trademarked in 1977. In the international market, the company made its mark by sponsoring Formula One driver Niki Lauda, and later the McLaren Racing team.
The company started producing fragrances in 1984 and was listed in Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 1985. The thriving business made its presence known in Tennis by sponsoring the Davis Cup in 1987. In 1989, Boss launched its first licensed sunglasses.
The company was bought by a Japanese group in 1990. An Italian textile Manufacturer Marzotto textile group acquired a 77.5% stake for $165,000,000 in 1991. Today the company’s 91% shares float on the Börse Frankfurt, 2% held by the company and 7% own by the Marzotto family.
The year 2000 sees the first women’s collection launched under the BOSS core brand. This collection is aligned alongside the BOSS men’s collection in the high-end fashion market. BOSS Womenswear offers the exclusive designs and feminine looks that appeal to modern, successful, and self-confident women with a natural zest. Classic tailoring as a tribute to the roots of the fashion house becomes more and more relevant within the womenswear collections, emphasizing the precise cut and the sophisticated details of the individual piece.
BOSS and HUGO are two strong brands that are clearly distinguished by their fashionable style but meet the same high standards of quality and fit, innovation and sustainability.
The Boss Women wear provides elegant and tailored outfits covering all occasions. A prominent name in the fashion Industry, Hugo Boss is going to touch many more milestones in future. Everyone needs a chance to redeem and the company is doing its part and I do hope in future it will continue to do so.