Boss was born in 1885, to parents who owned a lingerie and linen shop in the small town of Metzingen, 20 miles south of Stuttgart. After serving in World War I, Boss established his own clothes factory in 1924, in Metzingen, a small town south of Stuttgart, where it is still based. Due to the economic climate of Germany at the time, Boss was forced into bankruptcy. Then in 1931, he reached an agreement with his creditors, leaving him with six sewing machines to start again.
He joined the German Labour Front in 1936, the Reich Air Pro- tection Association in 1939, and the National Socialist People's Welfare in 1941. After joining these organisations, his sales in- creased substantially in 1932 and again in 1941. His profits also increased in the same time period.
Though he claimed in a 1934-1935 advertisement that he had been a ‘supplier for National Socialist uniforms since 1924,’ it is probable that he did not begin to supply them until 1928 at the earliest.
Because of his early Nazi party membership, his financial support of the SS and the uniforms delivered to the Nazi party, B o s s was considered both an ‘activist’ and a ‘supporter and beneficiary of National Socialism’. In a 1946 judgement he was stripped of his voting rights, his capacity to run a business, and fined a very heavy penalty’ of 100,000 DM ($70,553 U.S. dollars). He died in 1948, but his business survived.
As a result of the ban on Boss being in business, Boss's son-in-law Eugen Holy took over ownership and running of the company. In 1950, after a period supplying work uniforms, the company received its first order for men's suits, resulting in an expansion to 150 employees by the end of the year. By 1960 the company
was producing off-the-peg suits. In 1969, Eugen retired, leaving the company to his sons Jochen and Uwe, who began international development. In 1970, the first Boss branded suits were produced, with the brand becoming a registered trademark in 1977. This was followed by the start of the company's long association with motor sport, sponsoring Formula One driver Niki Lauda, and later the McLaren Racing team.
In 1984, the first Boss branded fragrance appeared. This helped the company gain the required growth for listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange the following year. The brand entered the world of golf by sponsoring Bernhard Langer in 1986 and entered the world of tennis by sponsoring the Davis Cup in 1987. In 1989, Boss launched its first licensed sunglasses. Later that year, the company was purchased by a Japanese group.
After the Marzotto textile group acquired a 77.5% in 1991, the Hugo and Baldessarini brands were introduced in 1993. In 1995 the company launched its footwear range, the first in a now fully developed leather products range across all sub-brands. A partnership with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation was launched in 1995, resulting in the Hugo Boss Prize, an annual $100,000 stipend in modern arts presented since 1996.
In 1997, the company appeared in a list of Swiss dormant accounts in connection with reparations lawsuits, which stirred the publication of articles highlighting the involvement of Hugo Boss with the Nazis. In 1999, American lawyers filed lawsuits in New Jersey on behalf of survivors and their families for the use of forced workers during the war. The company did not comment on these lawsuits, but reiterated an earlier statement that it would "not close its eyes to the past, but rather deal with the issues in an open and forthright manner".
In December 1999, an agreement was reached between the German government and the United States government along with a group of American class-action lawyers and Jewish groups. A fund equivalent to $5,100,000,000 U.S. dollars was to be financed equally by German industry and the German government, to compensate slave labourers used by the Germans in World War II. Hugo Boss agreed to participate in this fund, for an amount which was estimated by some sources to be $1,037,690.
The ranges are:
Boss Black, which includes modern classic clothing in both men's wear (1970) and woman's wear (2000). Boss Black has the widest variety of products and is the most widely distributed Boss range.
Boss Orange, which includes originally quirky styling with bohemian influences in both men's wear (1999) and woman's wear (2005). This line was relaunched in 2010 as denim based casual wear.
Boss Selection, which includes only high priced men's wear (2003) aimed at a mature market with an emphasis on English tailoring styles.
Boss Green, which was previously known as Boss Sport, includes golf-style active clothing in both men's wear (2003) and woman's wear (2010).
Hugo, which includes fashion forward styling with a European look in both men's wear (1993) and woman's wear (1998).