Hugo Boss

Tonie Ong

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Articles on Hugo Boss

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Some of the most famous fashion brands have been around for so long that one might not be familiar with its whole history. This is especially vital since, in recent years, fashion has gone political. The clothes one wears or the origin of the label have become valuable in expressing one’s political and social beliefs. All these have put to light the significance of a brand’s history and evolution. Today, they’re creating the most exquisite pieces and goods money can buy, but their past may tell a different story. Such is the case for Hugo Boss, whose trouble past helped form the vast fashion empire it stands as today.

Controversial Past

The company was founded by Hugo Boss in 1923 in Stuttgart, Germany. He opened its first clothing factory a year later in 1924, ran by himself and two business partners. They produced a series of well-made jackets, shirts, sportswear, and rainwear. Boss’s two business partners eventually left the company when it was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1931. However, that same year, he reached an agreement with a few creditors and was able to open up his company again by the early 1930’s, working with a factory of only six sewing machines.

Around the same time, Germany was forming a powerful political party called the National Socialist party, which eventually drove the country to start the Second World War. A member of the party, Boss designed and created the uniforms for the Nazi soldiers during World War II, making use of various materials from strong wool to leather. The company was one of the very few fashion labels operating in Europe during the war. After the war, Boss lost his rights to own and run a business, leading the company to close down for the second time. The founder dies in 1948, and for many years, the company did not operate and make new garments.

Revival

The brand was eventually revived by Boss’s own son-in-law Eugen Holy, who used the company to manufacturer work uniforms for a variety of businesses. 1950 saw the label’s first venture into high fashion, offering tailored men’s suits and a bespoke service for clients. By the 1960’s, the label started selling ready-to-wear pieces, and the company had expanded by that point, employing over 150 employees. Eugen eventually retired from the business in 1969 and left it on the hands of his sons, Jochen and Uwe, who then developed it into an international fashion label.

The company was eventually sold by the Holy brothers in 1991, and throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s, various luxury holdings groups have owned the brand. It was first sold to the Marzotto textiles group, who then spun it off to the Valentino fashion group. It was then bought by the London-based private equity group, Permira, upon which the company started branching out into other international markets like the United States and China. By 2015, Permira sold the label and is now partially-owned by the Marzotto family again.

Other Lines

From being exclusively menswear, the company soon branched out into other ventures, such as fragrances, accessories, and lifestyle lines. They launched their iconic fragrance, “Boss Bottled” in 1998, which has since been sold all over the world. They’ve also opened Boss Green, which is golf clothes for men and exercise garments for women. They’ve also manufactured a line of watches, belts, wallets, and other accessories, all trademarked with their famous logo.

In the middle of the roundabout of owners, the company also launched its womenswear line in 2000, selling quality ready-to-wear clothing for their female clients and customers. The collection is shown bi-annually during New York Fashion Week and designed by Jason Wu. Similarly to its menswear, Hugo Boss womenswear is very structured, tailored, and refined, often clothes for women in corporate fields. When Wu started working as creative director of the line, he incorporated some evening and cocktail pieces that he himself is known for in his main eponymous line. The collections soon became wardrobes for the modern working woman, with pieces fit for any occasion and any environment.

Celebrity Clientele

Upon further expansion, the label became a hit amongst celebrities, athletes, and other prominent personalities. They became closely-associated with race car driving, becoming the official outfitter for Formula 1 driver Niki Lauda and his team. They’ve also dressed Germany’s National Olympic team countless times for both the summer and winter Olympics, for the events’ opening and closing ceremonies. On the red carpet, actors like Matt Dillon, Ed Norton, and Gerard Butler are just some that have been spotted wearing the label. They’ve also been seen sitting front row during the brand’s menswear shows in Berlin Fashion Week.

Moving Forward

In 2011, the company formally and officially apologized for their involvement with the Nazi party during World War II. It was a bold move for a brand who, throughout the years, have hidden their dark past from their millions and millions of consumers. However, decades after the war, the brand has reinvented itself and has become known to be the luxury megabrand it is today. Today, it is one of the best-selling fashion houses, from Germany, operating across the globe.


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