The jury takes a look at the students' work at Parsons.

YOU’RE THE BOSS: Students at Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York have been honing their sustainable fashion design and innovation skills with the help of Hugo Boss.

The partners tested the waters with a workshop last year. To encourage exchange between different disciplines, the project was open to students in various areas of the school from fashion design to business. At Wednesday night’s graduate exhibit opening at the New York school, Hugo Boss announced the winners of its Circular Systems and Strategy course. Twenty students participated in the 16-week program, which is part of the company’s partnership with Parsons.

The $12,000 first prize, Boss One, was awarded to Annabella Waszkiewicz, Gwyneth Ong and Jose Luis Cabrera. The $6,000 second-place Boss Skeleton went to Elijah Devries, Camilla Hopkinson, Irene Lu, Alex O´Brien and Lara Tang. The $3,000 Boss Mention was given to Chenyu Wang, Haoyu Chen and Monika Mikhail. Their concepts will be displayed in one of the Boss stores in New York this year. All participants will have the opportunity to extend their work experience with the global fashion group. Hugo Boss’ former artistic director of women’s wear Jason Wu attended Parsons. 

Thirteen million tons of clothing are reportedly trashed annually. Sustainability, along with affordability and convenience, are key factors in the growth of the sharing economy, as Euromonitor International indicated in a report earlier this year. Time-strapped on-the-go consumers have increasingly mobile lifestyles and are trying to cut costs, save time and live freely in a way that is also eco-friendly.

The company’s commitment is in step with the Global Fashion Agenda’s call for fashion brands and retailers to sign a commitment to accelerate the transition to a circular fashion system. Ingo Wilts, chief brand officer at Hugo Boss, said, “We want to foster a passion for fashion, innovation and sustainability among the new generation of talents, and with Parsons, we have an outstanding partner at our side.”

The Hugo Boss-supported competition drummed up the exchange of know-how, ideas and experiences between the fashion house and the students in search of developing groundbreaking design solutions and products. Students were tasked with creating a premium circularity approach for the Boss Menswear. That included creating an outfit and prototype with a marketing and distribution concept. The goal was to bolster innovation and sustainability as product qualities at Hugo Boss while attracting gifted up-and-comers with unconventional ideas to the company.

Reporting modest gains in the first quarter for Hugo Boss earlier this month, Boss chief executive officer Mark Langer said the company is investing “significantly” in product quality in terms of fabric and finishing. “Our technicians say our quality for the price and feel for detail is on a very high level. We’re working with new innovative materials and just brought out our first sustainable sneaker, the upper of which is made from a fabric derived from pineapples,” he said in a conference call.

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