We caught up with Chief Brand Officer at HUGO BOSS, Ingo Wilts, as the German luxury house have teamed up with the iconic American label for a nostalgic unisex streetwear collection.
It’s hard not to look back to the past right now when faced with a future that seems altogether uncertain. And when it comes to fashion, this is all the more true; a dose of nostalgia has always had the power to transport us to simpler times and swaddle us in the comfort of the trends of yesteryear. Case in point? The buzzy casualwear collaboration between BOSS and Russell Athletic, which showcases the explosive power of vintage fashion when dug from the archives of two powerhouses.
Fusing the beauty of tailoring from the German luxury house with the American label’s retro storytelling of classic sportswear, the result is a pioneering unisex collection which is soon to have street style hypebeasts salivating.
Prints, colours and even construction techniques are plucked from the archives and finessed for something new and innovative. Exhibit A: spot fresh staples repping blended logos from both brands. Conventionally tailored pieces, such as shirts and blazers, hang in court-style 90s cuts; and vice versa, check the unexpectedly crisper fit of casualwear staples such as sweatpants. BOSS x Russell Athletic is throwing out the rulebook, and it’s about time too, especially as we all adjust to splitting our working lives between the office and home.
We caught up with Chief Brand Officer at HUGO BOSS, Ingo Wilts, who oversees the creative team and direction of the BOSS brand – and talked teen dreams, the new normal, and the future of fashion…
Hi Ingo, how have you been this year? How has it impacted your creativity and your work?
Normally I travel a lot and also get inspired by traveling, but these days I can’t travel anymore, and so I am here in Germany since the pandemic got so crazy in mid-December. We used to travel a lot, we went to museums, and now it’s more on socials; so we get inspired by the internet and we develop all of our collections digitally. It’s a new way of working but I think we have adjusted pretty fast to it.
Congratulations on the collection. I heard you are a huge Russell Athletic fan, is that where the idea for the collaboration came about?
It’s very funny. When I was eighteen I traveled from Germany to New York, and while I was there everybody was buying products we can’t get in Europe. I bought a Russell Athletic sweater not really knowing at that time what it meant and how it would influence me in the future. I’ve always wanted to do a collaboration with a sportswear company, and so I discussed it with the team, and said, “I want to [celebrate] our heritage in another brand’s fabric,” and then we reached out to Russell Athletic.
I asked, “can you send me all of your heritage stuff from the 70s and 80s?” And a lot of pieces which you see in the collection right now are heritage pieces – vintage pieces which are newly designed. We went to our archive from the 70s and 80s, and we took our oversized suits – a little boxy and wider – and the oversized coats, and we put them both together and designed them in their heritage fabrics. And this beautiful collaboration came out.
The elements of BOSS tailoring infused with the streetwear element is so great. What made you think the brands would have this perfect synergy?
Before the pandemic there was this huge casualwear trend in Europe. A lot of people were doing collaborations with sportswear brands, and when I reached out to Russell there was an automatic click.
It feels like this is such good timing for a collaboration like this to drop, while people are prioritising comfort above everything…
Of course. The last year, we changed our way of dressing dramatically. In the past we were very business-oriented, we wore suits, and this has changed.
Why was making the collaboration unisex so important?
Actually at the beginning it was purely a menswear collection. But when we presented it to our team all the women were asking why it wasn’t available in their sizes. So we added [sizes]!
What would you say the most challenging aspect of creating this collaboration during the pandemic?
At the beginning, it was challenging for us to design everything digitally because we didn’t have much experience in it. Exchanging ideas on Zoom calls was probably the biggest challenge, as digital design involved collaborating with the New York team. But now a year later, we laugh about it. Why do we have to attend all these meeting when we can do everything digitally?
Looking at the collaboration it’s got such a nice vintage streetwear essence to it. Can you describe the person or the energy of the person that you hope will be wearing this collaboration?
When you say BOSS, people think suits, and I want people to be able to perceive the brand as more sporty or casual. This whole idea of basketball, plus the younger generation, it’s super important.
Which way do you think the future of BOSS and fashion is going?
It will take a while before we go back to the way we were. I think we will never go back to suits in general though, we will dress differently – which has changed already.
Discover more at hugoboss.com. To launch the collection, BOSS will host an innovative digital event on boss.com at 6pm GMT on 24th March 2021, which can be followed with the hashtag #BOSSxRussellAthletic.