British comedian Joe Lycett changes name to Hugo Boss in swipe at fashion house

British comedian Joe Lycett changes name to Hugo Boss in swipe at fashion house

Stunt is revenge for brand's legal action against small firms using word boss in names

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

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Hugo Boss has long been a commanding brand in designer clothing and expensive fragrances — but it hasn't had much of a track record in entertainment.

That is about to change, albeit without the German fashion house's blessing, after the British comedian Joe Lycett changed his name to Hugo Boss by deed poll as part of a surreal revenge mission for a number of small businesses, including a Welsh craft brewery.

Lycett, now Hugo Boss, took the action after the other Hugo Boss was accused of taking heavy-handed legal action against small businesses and charities that use the word 'boss' in their names. Among its targets was Boss Brewing, a craft brewery based in Swansea (Wales), whose own boss described the stunt as “brilliant from a David and Goliath point of view” that drew attention to how “silly” the fashion company's approach was.

On Twitter, where he has also changed his account name to Hugo Boss, the comedian's bio now reads: “I am the comedian formerly known as Joe Lycett.” His Wikipedia page has also been updated.

He tweeted: “So Hugo Boss (who turnover approx $2.7bn a year) have sent cease & desist letters to a number of small businesses & charities who use the word 'BOSS' or similar, including a small brewery in Swansea, costing them thousands in legal fees and rebranding.

“It's clear that Hugo Boss HATES people using their name. Unfortunately for them this week I legally changed my name by deed poll and I am now officially known as Hugo Boss. All future statements from me are not from Joe Lycett but Hugo Boss. Enjoy.”

Attached was an image of a deed poll letter which appeared to confirm the change and a new signature with an unusually phallic structure.

Boss, 31, added he would be “launching a brand new product as Hugo Boss”, details of which would be revealed on the new series of Joe Lycett's Got Your Back, on Channel 4. The show takes on big corporations to fight for the rights of British consumers.

Speaking later on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme, Boss said he wanted the fashion label to stop taking such legal action and to apologise to the affected businesses.

WalesOnline reported in August last year that Boss Brewing had been left with a 10,000 legal bill after the luxury designer brand sent it a cease and desist letter when the brewer applied to trademark its name, a process that usually costs 300.

Sarah John, one of the founders and owners of Boss Brewing, said the comedian's move was “such a brilliant way of showing support”.

After a long and protracted legal fight with Hugo Boss, the brewery was able to keep its name but had to rebrand two of its award-winning craft beers and stop selling clothing.

John said that on top of the legal fees, the rebranding process cost upwards of 20,000 after the items had been relabelled and old stock was discarded.

“They're a premium, high-end fashion brand; we're craft beer,” she told the Guardian. “I really don't think there's confusion, so it was a bit unnecessary.

“[What Joe has done] is brilliant from a David and Goliath point of view. It's drawn attention to big corporate companies throwing their weight around. He's massively put the topic on the agenda, everyone's talking about it, it's gone viral on social media. And by doing it with humour as well it shows how silly it all is.”

The i newspaper reported in 2018 that a charity called DarkGirlBoss had received a legal letter from Hugo Boss when it tried to trademark its name.

The luxury fashion house, which often styles itself as BOSS, was founded in Metzingen, Germany, in 1924. It famously produced and supplied uniforms for the Nazi party. After the second world war, the eponymous owner was tried and fined for support of Nazism.

In 2011 the fashion giant apologised for using forced Polish and French labour during the Second World War to manufacture the uniforms.

Hugo Boss, the fashion brand, has been approached for comment, as has Hugo Boss, the comedian.

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