Jason Wu's debut Hugo Boss womenswear collection for fall 2014 has only partially shipped to stores at this point, but the creative re-direction has already translated into a sales bump for the 13-year-old women's division. For the first half year of 2014, revenue from womenswear grew 13 percent — a disproportionately fast rate, the company noted in an earnings release — versus 3 percent for the company's well-established menswear business.
Because Wu's women's collection won't land in stores in its entirety until August, Hugo Boss CEO Claus-Deitrich Lahrs kept his comments on its progress relatively qualitative during an earnings call on Thursday morning. The good news is, the hype surrounding Wu's artistic direction — execs might call it "momentum" — has already started to draw in a new contingent of shoppers. As Lahrs noted, many of the women they've seen buying during the last six months are first-time Hugo Boss customers.
The brand has been getting solid placement, too: Diane Kruger wore a pink dress from the fall collection on the cover of Vogue Germany's July issue, and model-of-the-moment Edie Campbell stars in the autumn campaign.
On the menswear side of things, Europe is currently Hugo Boss's strongest region in terms of sales, a point of difference from many brands at the moment. At 21 percent growth, the UK is a highlight, while Germany and France are showing good numbers, too. Sales in the U.S. took a hit thanks to low sell-through rates and high inventory levels, resulting in "intense promotional activity." Asia, too, is on the weaker end of things.
As CFO Mark Langer pointed out at the start of the call, Hugo Boss's core menswear demographic is entrepreneurs and high-level executives. This brand is all about winning — something best exemplified by the German soccer team wearing the brand at the World Cup. With any luck, that spirit of success will translate into womenswear as Wu builds a brand based on femininity in business.