Fashion giant Hugo Boss, which notoriously used forced labour to make uniforms in Nazi Germany, has dismissed mounting allegations that it relies on a modern-day equivalent supply chain using China’s persecuted Uyghur minority.
Human rights groups this week accused the luxury brand’s suppliers of using labour transfer schemes, a method where the Chinese government is said to forcibly move members of the Uyghur minority to work in factories outside of their home province of Xinjiang.
Many relocations happen against their will and some people are sent from so-called “re-education camps”, campaigners say.
Amid growing international scrutiny of China’s treatment of its Uyghur population, there is renewed focus on Western fashion brands that use suppliers and sub-suppliers to buy and process Xinjiang cotton.
The International Olympic Committee was criticised this week for selecting a Chinese textiles company with links to a factory in Xinjiang as a supplier to this year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The IOC gave a uniform contract for the Tokyo 2021 Summer Olympics and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics to a Chinese textiles company that has an affiliated factory in Xinjiang and that openly advertises its use of Xinjiang cotton. https://t.co/FaKerOf6y4
— Jaya Pathak (@jayapathak_) April 6, 2021
When asked by Jewish News, Hugo Boss did not respond directly to allegations that its Chinese suppliers and affiliates use forced labour or engage in human rights abuses.
“All employees working for Hugo Boss suppliers world-wide must be free to choose the ways and means of the employment they pursue,” the company said.
“We scrutinise all direct suppliers worldwide and demand proof that the materials used to manufacture our goods are produced according to these values and standards. This also includes identifying sub-suppliers and the production facilities they use for our goods.”
It added that it had not procured any goods from direct suppliers in Xinjiang, but did not address questions about the use of labour transfer schemes among Hugo Boss’s indirect suppliers.
The firm referred Jewish News to an undated statement on its website that said: “Effective starting October 2021, our new collections have been verified in line with our global standards once again.”
Luke de Pulford of the World Uyghur Congress said: “Hugo Boss has not learned from history. It should know that cooperating with authoritarian regimes doesn’t end well.
“It will be forced to make a choice – human rights or the concentration camps of Xinjiang.”
Hugo Boss apologised a decade ago after it emerged its founder Hugo Ferdinand Boss was an active Nazi Party member who joined before Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933.
Boss, who died in 1948, oversaw a production line that supplied uniforms for many sections of the party, including organisations like the SS and Hitler Youth.
Its factory used forced labour, including Polish and French workers.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.