Great companies take time to establish their good name and similarly great designers need to strive hard to be remembered for centuries to come. Hugo Boss, as the world knows is not an ordinary fashion, accessory and fragrance company – it is a brand name created by Hugo Ferdinand Boss who lived from 1885 until 1948 and during his lifetime founded the ever famous Hugo Boss brand that is known till today around the world.
Boss was the youngest child in his family and grew up in Metzingen, Kingdom of Württemberg. Between 1903 to 1905, he completed his service for the military and he did his internship as a merchant. He also worked in a weaving factory in Konstanz. His parents owned a lingerie store which he took over as its heir in 1908. In the same year, he wedded Anna Katharina Freysinger and the two gave birth to a daughter. Later in 1914, Boss joined the army and served as a corporal in the first world war.
Once Boss was all set, in 1923 he established his own apparel company in Merzingen and the next year he opened up a factory with two partners in the first place. Initially, his company produced jackets and shirts. Later it started making other types of clothing, such as raincoats and sportswear. However, as the country faced severe economic loss, Boss was forced into bankruptcy.
Yet he did not give up. In 1930s, the factory became involved in the production of uniforms for the Sturmabteilung, the Hitler Youth, and the Schutzstaffel. In addition, uniforms were made for railway employees, the Wehrmacht, and for postal service workers. In 1931, he joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party that stared to function under Hitler two years later. As the Nazi Party grew in number and power, Boss’s business flourished since he was assigned as the official designer and distributor of uniforms.
After World War II, Hugo Ferdinand was fined for supporting the Nazi rule and as a result was also barred from his voting rights. Sameerah Blue in the History of Hugo Boss suggests that the designer was not supportive of the Nazi policy, he only joined the party for the purpose of survival in order to save his company and himself. Despite the positive statements defending Boss, the designer did take advantage of the slaves in the concentration camps to brand the captives and oppressors of the Nazis. In 1946, Boss was declared as an optimistic supporter, sympathizer, beneficiary and activist of Nazism.
In 1948, he died from tooth abscess which in simple terms is a collection of pus. The designer suffered from this tooth related disease that wasn’t given much medical attention. Even when he was no longer there, his business grew with the help of those who supported his vision. However, the company quit making uniforms and steered their design sense towards producing suits for men.
Much later after his death, the Hugo Boss company was alleged in 1999 of using slave workers to produce uniforms for the forces of Hitler’s party. The company made no comment on the lawsuits filed against it. The Government of the United States and some leading Jewish groups reached on a decision to compensate slave workers that suffered from forced laboring in World War II. Hugo Boss agreed to distribute some money among the families of the laborers who faced humiliation, misery and pain by the company’s past atrocious practices at the time Boss was alive.