Breaking news: In the luxury company's 2014 Sustainability Report, Hugo Boss promised to implement changes in their clothing materials that would reduce the suffering of animals. The issues discussed are the use of fur, the use of angora wool, the practices involved in sourcing merino wool, and the practices involved in sourcing down feathers.
Both the CEO of the Humane Society and the Fur Free Alliance report that Hugo Boss has pledged to go 100% fur free beginning with the company's 2016 Fall/Winter collection. However, the language in the report itself only promises that the upscale brand will give up "farmed furs" (emphasis mine). It is unclear from the report what this means, as they later state that they are "concentrating on furs that are byproducts of the food industry," and that they decided to "only to source furs from operations with high animal husbandry standards, starting in the business year 2016." In one section, there is reference to "special forms of processing for leather derived from livestock." The report is unequivocal in its guarantee to give up fur from raccoon dogs (pictured above), foxes, and rex rabbits beginning next year, but whether they are eliminating the use of fur altogether seems hazier:
"These standards will enable the Group to reduce the use of furs in all its apparel collections." (p. 83, emphasis mine)
Hugo Boss made other animal welfare promises as well concerning the methods used to extract materials from animals for use in clothing. They are abandoning the use of angora wool outright, and they are making every attempt to source merino wool from producers who do not practice mulesing, the horrifying practice of shearing off a fold of skin around a sheep's anus (often unanesthetized) to prevent flystrike. They also will not use down feathers from live-plucked or force-fed birds. Their final animal rights promise was to refrain from using any products from endangered species.
Their commitment to developing "friendly" alternatives to fur and leather is inspiring, as they hope to change the culture around luxury products:
We demonstrate through our products that premium and luxury are able to integrate ethical and environmental issues. ... As one of the leading companies in the premium and luxury segment, we have a great deal of responsibility. ... We are aware that we may lose some customers with this new positioning. ... However, acting sustainably sometimes means saying “No.”
Whatever steps they are taking, it is clear that they are moving in the right direction.
Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nyctereutes_procyonoides_4_(Piotr_Kuczynski).jpg