Annual Report 2020

Research and development

  • Own development centers drive innovation and development work
  • Cooperations with brands and influencers of strategic importance
  • BOSS launches its first fully digitally developed casualwear collection

The overarching goal of research and development (R&D) at HUGO BOSS is to develop collections and products that meet the highest customer demands on quality and fit, innovation and sustainability. The maxim of developing the best products in the industry is in line with the fundamental principle of sustainably increasing the desirability of the BOSS and HUGO brands. In this context, the Company is increasingly focusing on partnerships and collaborations with well-known brands, influencers and artists.

Research and development at HUGO BOSS runs in parallel to the product development process, which involves the transformation of a creative idea into a commercial product. The work is carried out at four development centers in Metzingen (Germany), Coldrerio (Switzerland), Morrovalle (Italy) and Scandicci (Italy). While the majority of its collections are developed at the Group headquarters in Metzingen, the Coldrerio competence center is mainly responsible for the development of the product groups shirts, ties and knitwear. In addition, the design and development of shoes, leather accessories and bodywear is developed in Coldrerio. High-quality shoes and leather accessories, in turn, are developed in Morrovalle and Scandicci.

Product development process

The product development process begins with a creative idea, taking into account customers’ expectations. Collections are themed based on 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 into account sell-through rates of previous seasons as well as any other factor that is relevant to individual markets, such as regional purchasing power, climate, fashion preferences and the prevailing market environment. In the conventional development process, the second step sees the design teams’ creative ideas 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 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 partners and, after production, delivered to either the wholesale partners or to the Group’s own retail stores.

The digitization of the collection development is of high strategic importance to HUGO BOSS and, as a consequence, driven forward significantly in 2020. In particular, digital workflows allow the Company to operate more flexibly throughout its entire value chain, shorten lead times and thus adapt more effectively and quickly to current consumer trends. Digital product development also offers significant benefits from a sustainability perspective, particularly with respect to the elimination of physical prototypes. With the launch of the pre-fall 2021 season, BOSS will introduce its first fully digitally developed casualwear collection for men. With a total of around 100 articles, the collection includes apparel, shoes and accessories. The product development process was purely digital, from first sketches and the selection of materials and colors to prototyping and to the finished collection. Finally, the collection was sold to wholesale partners via a digital showroom and a digital lookbook. This is made possible by high-resolution 3D renderings, which are able to represent the pleating and the structure of the material in a realistic way. For HUGO BOSS, the collection represents an important milestone in the digitization of its business model. The Company has set itself the goal of developing around 80% of its collections completely digitally by 2022. For the spring/summer 2021 collection, the share was around 50%.

Key areas of research and development

In order to reflect the growing importance of casualization, the research and development work of the Company is increasingly focused on gradually increasing the share of casualwear in the product mix of BOSS and HUGO, while at the same time further improving comfort by using innovative materials. The aim is to further soften the boundaries between traditional businesswear and modern casualwear. The range of classic tailored fashion is increasingly being expanded to include innovative casual tailoring styles. For example, more recently BOSS successfully introduced the “broken suit”, in which various pieces from the businesswear and casualwear segment can be combined, such as a blouson with drawstring pants. Each piece of the broken suit can be worn individually or combined in a variety of ways to create a complete look. In 2021, this concept will be further expanded, with materials used increasingly focusing on comfort and ease. This is why BOSS, for example, offers a “washable suit”, which retains its shape even immediately after washing. The “stretch tailoring” range from BOSS is also specially designed to meet the needs of daily life through the use of stretch materials.

In order to best meet increasing customer expectations in the field of sustainability, the Group’s R&D activities are also geared toward consistently expanding the share of sustainable products in its collections. For example, BOSS continued its commitment to sustainability in its collections with its “Responsible Tailoring” campaign in spring 2020. The campaign focused on so called “Traceable Wool” products as well as a completely vegan suit. Traceable wool means that the wool used is carefully monitored from its origin, through its manufacture to the finished product, allowing the consumer to trace it from start to finish. With its first vegan suit, BOSS has also succeeded in completely eliminating animal materials in textile production. The suit, made at the Metzingen site, was awarded the “PETA-Approved Vegan” label in 2020 by the animal welfare organization PETA. Overall, in 2020, BOSS and HUGO were able to more than double the share of products made from sustainable materials in their fall/winter 2021 collections as compared to the prior year. Sustainability

Cooperations and collaborations

In order to further increase the desirability of its BOSS and HUGO brands, the Company is increasingly focusing on cooperations and collaborations with well-known brands and companies along with influential personalities and artists within the scope of its R&D activities. The aim is to provide additional creative impetus and to sustainably increase the attractiveness of both brands, particularly in the casualwear and athleisure segment. For 2021, BOSS has announced two exciting partnerships. One of these is the partnership with the iconic American sportswear brand Russell Athletic, which will see the launch of an exclusive capsule collection in pre-fall 2021. The “BOSS x Russell Athletic” collection has a clear focus on casualwear and ranges from apparel to shoes and accessories. The designs combine the strengths of both partners – the tailoring expertise of BOSS with Russell Athletic’s sportswear aesthetic. In order to further expand the desirability of the BOSS brand, especially in the important U.S. market, BOSS has also joined forces with the National Basketball Association (NBA). As part of this partnership, two capsule collections co-branded by BOSS and the NBA are scheduled for 2021. They will bear both the NBA logo and the logos of various NBA teams.

In the field of womenswear, BOSS collaborated with German fashion influencer Caro Daur for the first time in 2020 , successfully launching an exclusive collection. The “BOSS curated by Caro Daur” capsule comprised a total of 17 pieces – from a loose-fitting trench coat made from stretch-cotton, through a classic black dress with a high neck and open back, all the way to a single-breasted blazer with peak lapels. In 2020, HUGO continued to expand its partnership with the British musician and artist Liam Payne and launched its third “HUGO x Liam Payne” capsule last November. Developed in close collaboration with Liam Payne, the collection supported the “Cotton made in Africa” initiative, thereby also addressing the increasing sustainability requirements of customers. For each item sold, the initiative receives a donation that helps fund the training of African cotton farmers in sustainable cultivation methods.

R&D key figures

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

At 76%, personnel expenses accounted for the bulk of R&D expenses last year (2019: 72%). The remainder is primarily composed of other department expenses. In 2020, 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.

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