Research and development

  • Five development centers drive innovation and development work
  • Partnerships and collaborations to further increase brand desirability
  • Growing relevance around digital product development

The aim of the research and development work at HUGO BOSS is to develop products that combine the highest level of quality with a sophisticated design, while adhering to ethical standards and relevant environmental and health requirements. While products of the BOSS and HUGO brands differ in their fashionable style, they embody the same high standards in terms of quality and fit, innovation and sustainability. As such, the research and development work directly contributes to the Group’s vision of being the most desirable fashion and lifestyle brand in the premium sector.

Research and development (R&D) at HUGO BOSS is based around the product development process, which involves the transformation of a creative idea into a commercial product. Innovation and development work is carried out across five development centers in Metzingen (Germany), New York City (United States), Coldrerio (Switzerland), Morrovalle (Italy) and Scandicci (Italy). At the Group headquarters in Metzingen, HUGO BOSS develops the majority of its collections. The Company makes use of its Technical Center in Metzingen and its own production sites in Izmir to test innovative production methods and produce prototypes. Products that are used as part of the fashion show and customized designs from BOSS womenswear are also developed in a design studio in New York City. The Coldrerio competence center is responsible for the development of the product groups shirts, ties and knitwear and also for the design and development of shoes, leather accessories and bodywear. High-quality shoes and leather accessories are developed in Morrovalle and Scandicci.

Partnerships and collaborations

In order to further increase the desirability of its brands, HUGO BOSS increasingly focuses on partnerships and collaborations with internationally renowned designers, artists and premium companies as part of its R&D activities. These are embedded in the four regularly developed annual collections. This is intended to provide additional creative stimuli and drive innovations forward. For example, the 2019 holiday collection “BOSS x MEISSEN” was inspired by the “Big Five” group of figures of the porcelain manufacturer Meissen. The five animal motifs – elephant, rhinoceros, lion, buffalo and leopard – can be found in embroidered, printed and woven form throughout the entire collection. In addition, as part of the cooperation in the field of Formula E, BOSS and Porsche developed a second Porsche x BOSS” collection, which was launched in 2019. The collection was inspired by Porsche sports cars and is intended to reflect the expectations on design, innovation and performance that the two brands share. As part of a comprehensive collaboration, the HUGO brand was able to win singer and songwriter Liam Payne as a global brand ambassador in 2019. In the fall of 2019, this partnership produced a ten-part “HUGO x Liam Payne” collection inspired by the musician’s personal style. In 2020, HUGO will intensify the collaboration with Liam Payne and jointly develop further capsule collections.

In 2019, sustainability once again played a crucial role in product development. For example, HUGO BOSS launched products made from leather which are tanned from a 100% natural extract from leaves of the olive tree. The process was used in the Fall/Winter 2019 collection in various products, such as jackets, gloves and shoes. In addition, HUGO BOSS launched another BOSS shoe collection made of a natural material derived from pineapple leaf fibers.Sustainability

HUGO BOSS also continued to promote product personalization initiatives in 2019. With “BOSS Made for Me”, from now on customers have the opportunity to personalize the details of their look. This includes, for example, the outer material, the lining and the buttons of their new BOSS suit. In addition to custom-made suits, personalizable sneakers and outerwear jackets are also available in selected stores. Insights into market potential, products, processes and systems are constantly being incorporated in order to optimize the “BOSS Made for Me” offer within the framework of an agile project management approach.

Product development process

Product development process at HUGO BOSS (graphic)

The creative idea marks the beginning of the product development process. Collections are themed based on the brand strategy, brand values, as well as global mega and fashion trends. The transformation of the creative idea and designs into specific collections also takes account of the sell-through success of previous seasons as well as factors relevant to the individual markets, such as regional purchasing power, climate, fashion preferences and the prevailing market environment.

In a second step, the design teams’ creative ideas are tailored in the pattern design phase. Technical product development then turns the models into prototypes and tests their suitability for the industrial production process. In order to be able to act more flexibly and quickly in the development of its collections and to speed up the product development process, HUGO BOSS is consistently advancing the digitization of the product development process. For example, in 2019, the digital fabric and trimming database, which was introduced in 2018, was expanded further. This serves as a basis for products that have been developed completely digitally, where the use of physical prototypes can already be dispensed with today.

In conventional product development, the prototyping is followed by the manufacture of a sample collection in order to ensure that the products meet the Company’s high standards in terms of quality and fit. The collections are then sold to wholesale customers. For HUGO, sales are also generated using a digital showroom already since 2017. The use of digital showrooms was rolled out to BOSS casual and athleisurewear for the first time in 2019. For 2020, it is planned to roll out this method for BOSS businesswear. Following the sale of the collections to wholesale partners, the production process starts followed by the shipment to the wholesale partners as well as to the Group’s own retail stores.

R&D key figures

Number of employees in R&D as of December 31 (bar chart)

The creative and development departments of the HUGO BOSS are staffed by skilled fashion designers, tailors, shoe and clothing technicians and engineers.

R&D expenses (bar chart)

At 72%, personnel expenses accounted for the bulk of R&D expenses last fiscal year (2018: 71%). The remainder is primarily composed of other department expenses. In 2019, R&D costs were again mostly recognized as expenses at the time they were incurred. In addition, production-related development expenses are included in the cost of conversion of inventories. No development expenses were recognized as internally generated intangible assets due to the short product life cycles.