18. The Man Behind the Snazzy Nazi Fashion
There was a time when it seemed that no yuppie was cool unless his wardrobe contained Hugo Boss shirts, suits, socks, sunglasses, cologne, and man-thongs. Less cool was the history of the company’s founder, fashion designer Hugo Ferdinand Boss (1885 – 1948). He was an enthusiastic Nazi who devoted his talents to making Hitler’s goons look as snazzy as possible. He founded a textile factory as a family-run business in 1923, and one of his early big contracts was to supply uniforms to the Nazi party’s SA stormtroopers, or Brown Shirts. Boss eventually joined the party, and that paid off when the Nazis took power in 1933.
Boss’ status as an active party member and enthusiastic supporter of Nazi policies placed him on the inside track when the new regime began to award clothing contracts. Before long, the company was producing, in addition to the Brown Shirts’ uniforms, the black outfits of the SS, and the black-and-brown uniforms of the Hitler Youth. Production continued and expanded during WWII. By then, Hugo Boss was outfitting the SS, SA, Hitler Youth, German rail workers, postal employees, as well as the German army, navy, and air force. That was not the worst of it.