Corporate History

From a small clothing workshop to an international lifestyle group

Study on the Company's Foundation

Below you will find a summary of a study produced on the history of Hugo Ferdinand Boss (1885-1948) and his company. The full version of the study was published by the HUGO BOSS Group in August 2011. The management considered it exceptionally important to have this segment of the company history thoroughly investigated in light of the continuing public and media interest.

The study and its summary were produced in cooperation with the highly respected Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte – a German institution devoted to chronicling corporate histories – and its independent historians. The Group wishes to emphasize that it was not involved in the research or writing and that no influence whatsoever was brought to bear concerning the study's form or content. 

In the past HUGO BOSS AG has often been confronted by vague statements regarding its history. Hugo Ferdinand Boss established his workshop in 1924, as a consequence of which his company operated during the Third Reich and the Second World War. During this period the factory employed 140 forced laborers (the majority of them women) and 40 French prisoners of war. When the Group became aware of this fact, it made a contribution to the international fund set up to compensate former forced laborers.

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.

The company history "Hugo Boss, 1924-1945. The History of a Clothing Factory During the Weimar Republic and Third Reich" by Roman Köster is available from bookstores and – directly – from HUGO BOSS AG. This full-length study can be ordered from history@hugoboss.com.

Should you have any questions on the study or the summary presented here, you can contact us at the same address: history@hugoboss.com.

Numerous milestones punctuate the evolution of HUGO BOSS into an international lifestyle group. In the following section the events that have shaped the company's history are listed.

1946 – 1969

Following the Second World War manufacturing is progressively expanded under the guidance of Hugo Ferdinand Boss' son-in-law Eugen Holy. The first orders for men's suits are received during the 1950s.
By 1950 the company has 128 employees on its books, a number that continues to rise in the following years.

In 1960 the first off-the-peg suits for men are produced, laying the foundations for the company's future success. In 1969 Eugen Holy's sons – Jochen and Uwe Holy – take over the company, gradually reshaping it into the international fashion group familiar today.

1970 – 1989

The fashion-awareness of men increased in the 1970s and their demands in aesthetics changes distinctly. The BOSS brand – with its high-quality men's collections – was launched in the early 1970s. It is the era of extremely narrow shoulders and two-button, single-breasted blazers. BOSS is registered as a brand in 1977.

HUGO BOSS has already begun to hone an international profile when it begins sponsoring motorsports and Formula One racing during the early 1970s. These activities prove the perfect vehicle for promoting the BOSS brand image and fostering its popularity among a global audience.

HUGO BOSS ventures into a new market in 1984 by granting its first fragrance license. Ever since, HUGO BOSS fragrances have numbered among the most successful products in their segment and regularly featured among the top-selling scents.

In 1985 essential changes take place regarding the company structure. HUGO BOSS is listed on the German Stock Exchange in Frankfurt.

HUGO BOSS enters the field of golf sponsorship in 1985. The former world number one Bernhard Langer becomes the first professional to wear BOSS on the world's fairways and there are many others to come like Phil Mickelson and Martin Kaymer. Today HUGO BOSS continues to expand its golfing activities.

In 1989 HUGO BOSS grants a license for eyewear including sunglasses. With their innovative designs and classic elegance, the eyewear collections reflect the individual brands perfectly.

1990 – 1999

HUGO BOSS introduces its tri-brand strategy in 1993. Two new brands, HUGO and BALDESSARINI, are added to augment the core BOSS brand. HUGO's progressive, innovative style and BALDESSARINI's luxurious, sophisticated appeal open the doors to new target groups for HUGO BOSS fashions. In 2006 the collections from BALDESSARINI are discontinued.

The granting of a license for shoes adds a new dimension to HUGO BOSS and its collections. In 2004, production of shoes and leather accessories is integrated into the company and expansion has been ongoing ever since.

HUGO BOSS begins sponsoring contemporary arts in 1995. The partnership with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is sealed, creating the foundation for the HUGO BOSS PRIZE which is awarded for the first time in 1996.

The HUGO BOSS PRIZE is established jointly with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1996. Innovation and creativity are the deciding criteria for the prize, which is awarded by an international jury comprised of museum curators, critics, and collectors every two years. With its stipend of 100,000 USD, the HUGO BOSS PRIZE has since become one of the most important awards in the field of contemporary art. The American artist Matthew Barney is the first recipient of the accolade.

The first watch license is granted in 1996 for BOSS. In 2007 a BOSS Orange watch collection was added.

Tapping its long-term experience in golf sponsorship, HUGO BOSS launches the BOSS Golf Collection in 1997. The collection includes high-quality sportswear that meets golfers' standards both on and away from the course.

The year 1998 is a milestone in HUGO BOSS' company history, marking the launch of its first women's collection – under the HUGO brand. In the meantime women’s collections have also been introduced for the brands BOSS, BOSS Orange and BOSS Green. Many of the HUGO Womenswear pieces become absolute Must-haves.

An international event marks the launch of BOSS Orange in 1999. The casualwear line provides an additional platform for sports- and leisurewear within the HUGO BOSS brand world – flanking the classic and elegant BOSS collection and the younger and more progressive HUGO brand.

2000 – 2005

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 become more and more relevant within the womenswear collections, emphasizing the precise cut and the sophisticated details of the individual piece.

BOSS Golf is repositioned within the HUGO BOSS brand world with a new concept and renamed BOSS Green: Functional materials and BOSS fashion know-how are synthesized in this everyday apparel with a sporting twist. The result is a coherent collection with strong colors and high-impact looks.

In 2003 the Group's sports sponsorship activities are extended to sailing. And since that year, the 22-strong crew of the HUGO BOSS yacht, led by skipper Alex Thomson, has been exclusively outfitted with a specially manufactured sailing collection.

As modern consumers' tastes become more sophisticated, demand for supreme quality and perfect workmanship grows. For a leading brand like BOSS, it is important to satisfy these changing market requirements with innovative solutions – and thereby offer products that completely cover the high-quality menswear segment. To answer this need, the luxury line BOSS Selection is first presented for Fall/Winter 2004.

Shoes and leather goods perfectly complement every look. In January 2004, footwear and leather goods manufacturing is incorporated into the HUGO BOSS Group.

2006 – 2014

For the 2006 summer season a BOSS Orange Womenswear collection – offering the same casual, individualistic and upbeat styles as the existing men's collection – is launched for women.

In 2006, the brand portfolio changes and the collections from BALDESSARINI are discontinued. The luxury positioning of BALDESSARINI is now represented by BOSS Selection within the HUGO BOSS brand universe.

Having supported children’s charities for several years, HUGO BOSS – in conjunction with the children’s aid organization UNICEF – begins building schools in Africa’s poorest countries during 2007. Within the framework of this project, schools in Angola, Malawi, Rwanda, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa have been opened or renovated and supplied with new teaching materials.

On the evening of October 17, 2007 HUGO BOSS presents its BOSS Spring/Summer 2008 collection at the historic Cunard Building in Manhattan. It is the first time the Group is showing its collection in New York. 

HUGO BOSS' online store in Great Britain is launched in September 2008. Today online stores have also opened in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, France, and the USA. Additional stores around the world are due to follow. 2011 sees the relaunch of the online store in Mandarin for the Chinese market - a milestone in the ecommerce business.

In February 2009, HUGO BOSS adds a true superlative to the realm of luxury apparel: the BOSS Selection Tailored Line. For the first time ever, full canvas construction is achieved – i.e. every step involved in creating a suit is performed by hand. In 2011 the Tailored line is integrated into the MADE TO MEASURE concept.

The year 2009 sees HUGO BOSS awarding a license for children's clothing. Keyed to the positioning of the BOSS core brand, the collection features a versatile wardrobe offering a rich variety of looks for children and teens that are suitable for recreation and more formal occasions.

Since 2009 iPhone owners have been able to explore the world of
HUGO BOSS using a dedicated app – in addition to viewing the more detailed presentation on the corporate website. The company also maintains online channels on the video portal Youtube and the social networking sites Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare.

In the Fall/Winter 2010 season, HUGO BOSS premiers a further women's collection - as a complement to the successful BOSS Green men's collection. The line's looks are geared toward trend-conscious, athletic women with an active and modern lifestyle.

[Translate to english:] Soziales Engagement spielt für HUGO BOSS in allen Bereichen eine sehr wichtige Rolle, insbesondere für Kindern. HUGO BOSS geht daher 2010 neben seiner Partnerschaft mit UNICEF, eine weitere bedeutende Projektpartnerschaft mit „Save the Children“ ein, der größten unabhängigen Kinderrechtsorganisation der Welt.

By awarding a license for bed and bath products HUGO BOSS creates a comprehensive lifestyle. Inspired by the Group's fashions, the Home Collection comprises elegant, modern bedding, bath and beach towels that feature high-quality workmanship.

In 2011 the Group relaunches its online store in Mandarin for the Chinese market.

In 2011, HUGO BOSS launches its most luxurious line with BOSS Selection MADE TO MEASURE and the MADE TO MEASURE Service, offering tailored suits for men. Choosing from an array of the finest Italian fabrics and exquisite materials the customer can assemble his very own MADE TO MEASURE suit, along with custom-made shirts and ties.

[Translate to english:] 2012 findet die erste Fashion Show mit einer Liveübertragung in 3D statt. Ob in Berlin, Shanghai oder New York, überall kann die spektakuläre Show live mitverfolgt werden.

The BOSS Selection products are merged with the BOSS collection. This move underscores the luxury and premium standards of the core brand and simultaneously enhances the uniqueness and clarity of the global brand image. The tailored suits MADE TO MEASURE are now available under BOSS and mark the luxurious peek of the fashion house’s collections.

Since May 2013 HUGO BOSS has been the official fashion outfitter of the German national soccer team as well as of the German national under-21 soccer team. Off the pitch the athletes showcase classic business looks and laid-back casual outfits.

HUGO BOSS ASIA ART creates a new art award in Asia, following the HUGO BOSS PRIZE co-founded in 1996 by HUGO BOSS and the Guggenheim Foundation. This groundbreaking biennale award which aims at recognizing the significant achievements in contemporary art in Asia, is conceived and curated by the Rockbund Art Museum that carries a stipend of ¥300,000. Kwan Sheung Chi is the inaugural artist to receive the first biennial award.

Jason Wu takes up the position of Artistic Director for BOSS Womenswear. The Taiwan-born, New York-based designer becomes responsible for the entire womenswear line up from HUGO BOSS, including ready-to-wear and accessories.

HUGO BOSS and Parsons The New School for Design announced a major new scholarship in the amount of $250,000.

Principal shareholder Permira sells its shares in HUGO BOSS AG.

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