Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to fashion and whether they are true or false.
FASHION URBAN LEGEND: Hugo Boss produced uniforms for the Nazis.
Hugo Ferdinand Boss started his first clothing business in the early 1920s, when Boss was in his early 40s.
By 1930, Boss was forced to declare bankruptcy.
In 1931, Boss joined the National Socialist party.
When the Nazis took power in 1933, Boss soon found himself contracted to produce the uniforms for the Nazi Schutzstaffel (their paramilitary force from 1925 until 1945).
And damned if they did not do a very nice job making snazzy uniforms for the Nazis.
These uniforms were mass produced in factories often manned by Prisoners of War.
Boss, naturally, did not do so well after the Nazis were defeated, but he was allowed to continue to run his company and in the years following the war, the company re-geared itself as a designer and producer of men’s suits.
And after Boss’ death in 1948, the company hit a boom period in the 1960s and 1970s and Hugo Boss is now one of the most successful clothing company in the entire world.
The company, admittedly, has done a nice job, I’d say, of cooperating with any inquiries into their past – they’re as ashamed as anyone else, but what can they do?
Still, it’s pretty striking to think about the often-tainted history of some of these German companies.
The legend is…
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com.