Materiality Analysis

The foundation of HUGO BOSS' sustainability strategy
Sustainability is a broad subject. To determine which sustainability topics are particularly relevant for HUGO BOSS and its stakeholders, the company conducted an extensive update of its materiality analysis in 2017. The insights gained from it form the foundation of the HUGO BOSS sustainability strategy.

How was the analysis carried out?

To define a structure for the analysis, the value chain was divided into five stages:

  1. Raw materials, fabrics and trimmings
  2. Finished goods
  3. Own operations
  4. Products and services
  5. Logistics processes 

HUGO BOSS identified potentially relevant sustainability topics at each of these stages, taking the requirements of internationally recognized sustainability standards and ratings into account.

  • Raw materials

    This stage of the value chain includes the extraction and production of raw materials such as cotton, wool, and leather. It also includes processing, such as the production, dyeing, and finishing of fabrics and leathers.

    The materiality analysis identified the following sustainability topics associated with this stage of the value chain:

    • Water and air pollution
    • Social impact
    • Water consumption
    • Animal welfare
    • Other environmental impacts
  • Finished goods

    This category includes topics associated with the manufacture of apparel and accessories by external partners – particularly the cutting and sewing of textiles. This stage of the value chain is related to the following sustainability topics:

    • Social impact
    • Water and air pollution
    • Other environmental impacts
  • Own operations

    This stage of the value chain includes the Group’s own production sites, administration buildings, logistics centers, and retail outlets. It is associated with the following sustainability topics:

    • Employee engagement
    • Social impact
    • Governance
    • Social commitment
    • Environmental impacts
  • Products and services

    This category includes the use, care, and disposal of products, as well as the related customer services. The potentially relevant sustainability topics in this area are:

    • Product safety
    • Customer satisfaction
    • Products and services
  • Logistics processes

    This stage of the value chain contains the shipment of goods from the production country to the sales market. It also includes the delivery of goods to customers. Environmental impacts are the main sustainability topic in this area.

In the further course of the analysis, HUGO BOSS analyzed the 17 individual aspects with regard to three categories: 

  1. Importance
    The importance of the topics for internal and external stakeholders was determined through an anonymous online survey. All relevant stakeholder groups at HUGO BOSS were included in the survey.
  2. Impact
    Economic, environmental, and societal impact of the Company on the respective topics. These impact analyses were conducted in workshops. The results of the natural capital evaluation were also incorporated here.
  3. Relevance
    Relevance of the respective topics for the Company’s success (analysis of business relevance). Like the impact analysis, this analysis was also conducted in workshops with the HUGO BOSS sustainability department and other relevant specialist departments.

As such, the materiality analysis satisfies the requirements of both the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the CSR Guidelines Implementation Act (CSR-RUG). The results of the analysis are incorporated into the company’s ongoing strategic work. The individual fields of action implement the insights in their practice.

The results of the materiality analysis were approved by the managing board within the Sustainability Committee. Further validation was obtained through the international stakeholder dialog in November 2017.

What were the results of the materiality analysis?

The 17 clusters were summarized in a materiality matrix according to their importance to stakeholders and the company’s impact. When the business relevance is also taken into account, this approach identifies the topics that are especially material to the sustainability strategy:


The three most material topics

  • Social impact (finished goods)

    HUGO BOSS sources a large portion of its merchandise from external partners around the world (more information about the company’s procurement strategy is available here). Therefore, the social impacts of these relationships are a highly relevant topic for the sustainability strategy. HUGO BOSS conducts a variety of measures to improve things here:

    • All suppliers pledge to comply with the HUGO BOSS Social Standards. Before they are added to the supplier portfolio, potential partners are reviewed to ensure compliance with the requirements. After they are added, they are subject to regular social audits. If any violations are identified, HUGO BOSS and the relevant partner define a corrective action plan together and verify its results in subsequent audits.
    • HUGO BOSS is committed to cooperative programs such as the Fair Labor Association and the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles. Through this concentration of expertise, working conditions in the textile and apparel industry can be systematically improved.
  • Water and air pollution (raw materials)

    The production of raw materials such as cotton, wool, and leather creates water and air pollution. 

    To minimize the environmental impacts here, HUGO BOSS joined the ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Program in 2017, whose aim is to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals in production. HUGO BOSS suppliers are called upon to use more environmentally friendly alternatives and to design their waste water management compliant with the requirements of the roadmap.

    To reduce the environmental impacts of leather production in particular, HUGO BOSS also joined the Leather Working Group (LWG) in 2017. This initiative audits and certifies environmentally friendly tanneries. HUGO BOSS has set a target of sourcing 60% of the leather it uses from LWG-certified tanneries by 2022.

  • Product safety (products and services)

    HUGO BOSS is aware of its responsibility for the health and safety of the people who come into contact with its products – whether in production or as customers. The company takes this responsibility very seriously, which is why all collections must meet the highest safety standards and pose no risk to health.

    To achieve this, HUGO BOSS commits itself and its suppliers to comply with the Restricted Substances List (RSL), in which the company defines strict maximum permitted levels of chemicals in its products. Every supplier must sign a guarantee declaration. Regular product tests verify compliance with the RSL.

    In addition, we urge our suppliers to use alternative, environmentally friendly chemicals in production in the framework of the ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Program.

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