Hugo Boss

German luxury fashion

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Germany

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How sustainable is Hugo Boss?

Hugo Boss is an international luxury brand that makes clothing, fragrances, footwear and accessories. It was founded in 1923 by the German designer of the same name. The company’s history is not a pretty one due to its involvement with the manufacturing of the uniforms for the Waffen-SS and Hitlerjugend in World War II. A dark past that the company is still reminded of in the present. But that’s in the past. With its two strong brands, Boss and Hugo, Hugo Boss is the biggest clothing company in Germany with a strong global presence and influence. Hugo Boss doesn’t report full supply chain emissions, but it has signed the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action and adopted Science Based Targets, which includes a 30% reduction target for its supply chain by 2030 and has set the goal of reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 51%. The company is actively reducing its carbon footprint by implementing renewable energy, water and waste measures and a reduction of transport emissions by reducing air freight. These are all great measures, but a bit more transparency on its supply chain emissions are necessary. The company publishes a list of factories in its supply chain and is transparent about the material it uses for its clothing: 51% cotton, 16% synthetic fibers, 13% wool, 9 % leather, onwards is 3% or less. For its cotton sourcing, the company partnered with numerous cotton initiatives including the Better Cotton Initiative and Cotton Made in Africa. The percentage that originated from these more sustainable cotton sources amounted to 61% in 2019 and the company targets 100% by 2025. There is a big problem with the animal sourcing though. The company currently uses 40% of its leather from uncertified tanneries and uses noncertified wool that sometimes originates from sheep mulesing, which is very animal-unfriendly and there’s simply no excuse for this. Hugo Boss has important steps to make in terms of animal welfare. The German company has a Code of Conduct that covers all basic labor rights and is a member of the Fair Labor Association, which conducts independent third-party audits. It’s transparent about the results of these audits and the corrective measures following a violation, but who actually conducts the audits remains largely unclear, This implies that a large percentage of audits are conducted by the company itself, which is always a risk. Hugo Boss is a member of ACT, which is a first step towards payment of living wages, but there is no evidence that the company currently pays a living wage to the workers in its supply chain.

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