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The history of hugo boss: from army fatigues to high fashion

The history of Hugo Boss: from army fatigues to high fashion

Famed for its casual wear and classically cut men’s suits, the German fashion house Hugo Boss is now a long-established global leader in clothing. Named after the founder himself, Hugo Boss began in 1923 in Metzingen, Germany just after World War I, as the country’s industry began to prosper again. However, by 1930, Boss faced bankruptcy due to the floundering economic climate in Germany but, undeterred, found success again in 1933 when his empire truly began to grow, as he became the official supplier of uniforms to the SS guard.

After the war, and the death of Hugo Boss himself in late 1947, the company carried on manufacturing work wear before eventually turning its hand to designing and producing men’s suits in 1953. As luck would have it, the world fashion industry was just beginning to focus more on men’s clothing and so, during the 60s and into the 70s, Hugo Boss suits became the de riguer choice for well-cut lines and superb quality.

Having expanded yet again into men’s casual wear and women’s wear, Hugo Boss was floated on the stock market and garnered great success, with the Marzotto Textile Group still being the majority shareholder in the global fashion label to this day.

Exactly 70 years after the company was first founded, Hugo Boss looked to broaden its product range and horizons yet again by making a significant impact on the fragrance market. This decision effectively split the company’s business model in two, with one half still producing exceptionally good quality designer clothes, whilst the other half aimed to dominate the perfume world.

In 1993 the label released the Boss brand, to focus on contemporary mens suits for the younger generation and, by 1999, Hugo Boss decided to split the organisation further to gain a still greater share of individual markets, by launching Boss Orange and Boss Black. Boss Orange is the casual and leisure wear brand, whereas Boss Black is the label’s formal brand, focussing on eveningwear for men and women.

Today there are more than 6,000 points of sale for Hugo Boss brands and more than 1,000 stores in about 100 countries worldwide, making it a fashion mainstay. However, in December 2009 Hugo Boss announced that it was to close its main clothing factory in Ohio, which served as the main production and distribution site for American Boss mens suits for 20 years. Despite the factory producing 150,000 suits a year, the closure has come as the factory was not deemed to be working to its full capacity, and a more efficient approach was needed to ensure future growth.

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