Jason Wu is leaving Hugo Boss
The move had been widely expected, as the industry had been flooded with rumors that the two sides were no longer thinking on parallel lines. The German brand has not named a successor, nor indicated when one might be announced.
Wu had been hired as artistic director of women’s wear in June 2013 by then-CEO of Hugo Boss, Claus-Dietrich Lahrs, but after that executive was fired by the company in May 2016, Wu was never quite at ease.
Already back in November 2016, Boss suddenly quit the NYC runways, ending some offshoot lines and refocusing on its core product, menswear. Even more startling, the company’s new CEO Mark Langer told investors said the company planned to “abandon the luxury market and go back to its roots of selling premium men’s clothing.” Womenswear accounts for roughly one tenth of Hugo Boss business.
“It’s public knowledge that about a year and a half ago there was a management change at Hugo Boss,” Wu told Women’s Wear Daily.
“I’ve stayed on to help the brand with the transition of its next stage. It’s going on to the next generation and iteration of Hugo Boss,” added the 35-year-old, Taiwanese-born Canadian designer.
No one could fault Wu’s efforts for Boss, commuting every month from New York to Boss’ historic headquarters in Metzingen, the remote South German town with a population of just 22,000. He also staged impressive shows in landmark skyscrapers, including elements of Bauhaus in early shows, and winning many positive reviews. He also cleverly revamped the brand’s image, hiring top fashion photographers like Inez & Vinoodh to shoot hipster models like Edie Campbell and Anna Ewers. Above all, he made the marque relevant in women’s fashion.
However, with Langer seemingly determined to reverse most of Lahrs’ strategy, it always seemed a matter of time before Wu separated from Germany’s largest fashion brand. Langer has, just about, edged back Boss to growth, posting a 3% increase in sales in the third quarter of 2017 to 711 million euros. Not exactly Gucci-like.
And so, this Tuesday evening Wu will take his final bow in Cedar Lake, a show-space in the Chelsea art gallery district. Finishing a five-year run, which in the current era of designer churn, will be seen as not such a bad inning.
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