Hugo Boss AG is a German fashion and lifestyle house based in Metzingen, Germany that specializes in high-end mens- and womenswear. It is named after its founder Hugo Boss (1885–1948).
Hugo Boss started his clothing company in 1924 in Metzingen, a small town south of Stuttgart, where it is still based. However, due to the economic climate in Germany at the time Boss was forced into bankruptcy. In 1931 he reached an agreement with his creditors, leaving him with 6 sewing machines to start again. The same year, he became a member of the Nazi party and a sponsoring member (“Förderndes Mitglied”) of the Schutzstaffel. He later stated himself that he had joined the party because of their promise to end unemployment and because he felt “temporarily” withdrawn from the Lutheran church. He joined the German Labour Front in 1936, the Reich Air Protection Association in 1939, the National Socialist People’s Welfare in 1941. His sales increased from 38,260 RM in 1932 to over 3,300,000 RM in 1941, while his profits increased in the same period from 5,000 RM to 241,000 RM. Though he claimed in a 1934/1935 advertising he had been a “supplier for Nazi uniforms since 1924”, such supplies are probable since 1928/1929 and certain since 1934, when he became an Reichszeugmeisterei-licensed (official) supplier of uniforms to the Sturmabteilung, Schutzstaffel, Hitler Youth, National Socialist Motor Corps and other party organizations. To meet demand in later years of the war, Boss used about 30 to 40 prisoners of war and about 150 forced laborers, from the Baltic States, Belgium, France, Italy, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the former Soviet Union. According to German historian Henning Kober, the company managers were “avowed nazis”, “the Boss were all great admirers of Adolf Hitler” and Hugo Boss had in 1945 in his apartment a photograph of himself with Hitler taken in the latter’s Obersalzberg retreat.
In a 1946 denazification judgement, based on his early party membership, his financial support of the SS and the uniforms delivered to the Nazi party even before 1933, Boss was considered both an “activist” and a “supporter and beneficiary of National Socialism”. He was stripped of his voting rights, his capacity to run a business and, fined “a very heavy penalty” of 100,000 marks. He died in 1948 but his business survived.
Hugo Boss currently has at least 6,102 points of sale in 110 countries. Hugo Boss AG directly owns over 364 retail stores with over 1,000 stores and shops owned by franchisees.