“Boss is very much seen as a man’s brand,” Wilts tells marie claire, “For 12 months we have been on an internal project to find the Boss woman. She doesn’t want to be dressed in a man’s brand. She is very confident, always very modern and wants to go her own way.”
Substantial internal research helped Boss to bring home $4.5 billion in sales in 2018, but Wilts had to look outside of the data and to the downtown galleries of New York to find both inspiration for the latest slow-burn collection and the definition of the Boss woman as a whole. “I was walking through Chelsea, where I live, and seeing all of the women in the galleries… there was something effortless about their clothing and tailoring,” Wilts explains, saying the brand now knows exactly who it’s been searching for.
Strong shoulders that make an impression without overpowering the silhouette, narrow sleeves that allow room for sweeping gestures of appreciation and unexpected straight-leg trousers with the delicious rumples of supple leather, demonstrate the tightrope of modernity being walked by this new Boss woman.
The focus on tailored suiting is something Wilts is embracing rather than shying away from when it comes to turning his sights on the Boss woman. “When you think about a certain British company, also starting with the letter ‘B’, you think of trench coats. With Diane von Furstenberg it is the wrap dress that immediately comes to mind,” Wilts says. “We have our heritage and it is clearly grounded in tailoring. From that tailoring, we move into skirts [and] dresses.”
Having had a long relationship with Hugo Boss, along with stints at Tommy Hilfiger, Elie Tahari and Kenneth Cole, Wilts took control of womenswear following Jason Wu’s exit as artistic director last year. Experience allows him to appreciate tailoring’s return to the fashion forefront after seasons in the wilderness of casual Fridays and yoga pants, but short-term runs are of little interest, as the focus remains on a longer, enduring path for the Boss woman.
“In understanding her we see the Boss woman as international and we are thinking of the needs of our customer,” he says. “We have an eye on all of the continents and how she dresses differently in every country. In New York she is more of a businesswoman. In Europe and Asia there is a different approach to dressing that’s not as focused on work.”
This refined and effortless aesthetic is also reflected in the brand’s extensions including the latest fragrance release, Hugo Boss The Private Accord For Her eau de parfum ($162). Dosed with notes of crushed berries, violet and jasmine, it’s the scent you reach for when you want to feel effortlessly put together (much like those women in Chelsea).
The message is old-fashioned, even if the clothes are contemporary - trends are one thing but the customer always comes first. With unexpected details, a punchy palette of tomato reds, creamy camels and blue-and-red checks, it appears that she is flourishing in the nourishing spotlight of this belated attention. “We see her. She is very sensual and she is successful in her own way. Success for her is different from success for a man.” Wilts says. “Sometimes men seem to try very hard, but she is effortless and inspiring with her style.” It sounds as though the Boss woman is taking the lead.