See this this nice little maroon shirt? I have thrown it away and pulled it out of the trash or goodwill pile 3 times now. I bought it during a business trip to Poland...my friend from Heidelberg told me Hugo Boss has really terrific clothes. They do.
Poking around the mall in Warsaw, I found this shirt and decided to give Mr. Boss a try. What I discovered months later working on a thesis about companies involved in the Holocaust, was a very unflattering past for this brand.
Hugo Boss himself was a fervent Nazi and his company produced Nazi uniforms. More specifically they seem to have produced uniforms for the German armed forces and the Waffen-SS (a division of the SS). They were the armed division of the SS and were tried as a criminal organization after the war ended.
No, I really can't wear the shirt.
As I study corporate liability/accountability for mass atrocity, I need to look into these things.
In 2011, Hugo Boss released a study that explored their role in Nazi clothing production. The study, "Hugo Boss, 1924-1945. The History of a Clothing Factory During the Weimar Republic and Third Reich," found that the company did produce uniforms. To make matters worse, they were made by POWS and 140 force laborers- the majority of whom were women. Click here for a copy of the abridged study on Hugo Boss wartime history.
Everyone has to decide how they feel about buying from companies with icky pasts. The older the company, the greater the chance for ickiness. The U.S. was built on slave labor. We know this. Still, there's just something about Boss...the irony that I bought the shirt in the country where my great aunts and uncles were murdered is just too weird.
My roommate has the shirt now. It will look great on her...and I'll continue to drive a VW.