Electrifying. That was the word that came to mind during the Hugo Boss Winter 2013 fashion show in Shanghai in May. The venue, a power-plant-turned-art-museum on the grounds of the World Expo, was the first giveaway.
Not that there were any utilitarian vestiges of the past. Instead, the lightning-like LED lighting was a nod to the venue’s history – and, more importantly, created a high-impact backdrop for the brand’s second show in China. Rivalling the brilliance, high-wattage stars such as Hugo Boss celebrity ambassador Chow Yun Fat, Lin Chi-ling, Huang Xiaoming, Carey Mulligan and Gerard Butler garnered almost as much attention as the ensembles sent down the zigzagging runway.
Almost. Headlined Conceptual Luxury, the collection showcased looks that underscored the brand’s desire to meet the growing consumer demand for luxury. The modern-classic cuts that Hugo Boss is best known for were there; many men owe its menswear designer, Kevin Lobo, for not caving in to the shrunken-trousers trend. But the looks were anything but predictable: Jackets featured lapels in lush materials like leather and fur, while coats were crafted from cashmere and silk. These were accessorised with large duffels in materials such as watersnake. As with every Hugo Boss collection, black suits were a key presence but, this time, they were juxtaposed with rich aubergine, teal and burgundy.
It all made for a bold sartorial statement reflecting the German brand’s expansive ambitions, while raising its exclusivity factor. It has set its sights beyond China, its third- largest market after the United States and Germany.
“South-east Asia is an important growth region,” notes the president and chief executive of Hugo Boss (Asia-Pacific), Dr Gerrit Ruetzel. Besides opening branches in Vietnam, the brand is looking to take back the distribution rights of its stores in Taiwan and Singapore.
Operating its own shops will facilitate Hugo Boss’ expansion plans. Referring to the planned launches of Hugo Boss’ made-to-measure menswear service in Asia, he says: “If you do made-to-measure, you typically need bigger stores because you need (to create) a private room. It’s impossible to do made-to- measure in 200 sq m and still provide intimacy and privacy. How can you, when 20 other people are running around the store?”
Like a car, sleek and silent speak luxe all the way.