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Hugo Boss recently funded a study that delves into their involvement with the production of uniforms for German armed forces and the Waffen SS during World War II. WWD reports: "Over the years, the Metzingen-based Boss has periodically been confronted with allegations and rumors suggesting its founder designed the Nazi uniform or was Hitler's personal tailor."
The study, called "Hugo Boss. 1924-1945. The History of a Clothing Factory During the Weimar Republic and Third Reich" by Roman Köster, is being released today in German by C.H. Beck. In the study, Köster explains that there is evidence that Boss produced the uniforms, but "there is no indication that the Hugo Boss company played any kind of leading role in [the uniform production] sector. Nor do the available sources indicate in any way that it was involved in designing uniforms." Whether the uniforms were just produced or also designed, though, doesn't change the fact that it's a tough subject to navigate. So, why did they fund the study?
Philipp Wolff, Hugo Boss' senior VP of communications, says: "We don't want and have never wanted to hide anything, but rather want to bring clarity to the past. It's our responsibility to the company, our employees, our customers and everyone interested in Hugo Boss and its history."
WWD notes that the timeline breaks down like this: Hugo Boss was just about bankrupt in 1931, which just so happens to be the same year Boss went and joined the Nazi party. They received orders for uniforms, and ended up primarily producing for German armed forces and the Waffen SS. To make the uniforms, Boss had 140 forced laborers, (mostly women) and 40 French POWs from 1940-1941. And though "there is some evidence that Boss himself tried to alleviate conditions" for the workers, Köster writes, "he took no action to stop [it] either." Additionally, the study shows that the Hugo Boss factory was just one company producing the uniforms: In total, there were 15,000 companies responsible for production.
· Hugo Boss Funds Historical Study [WWD]