Brunello Cucinelli: The King of Cashmere
As a family business, we look to align ourselves with brands that display the kind of “family first” values that we work so hard to promote within our own company. Nowhere is this more apparent than with Brunello Cucinelli. Not only has he created a company that produces clothing and accessories of the finest quality, he has incorporated his philosophy of Humanistic Capitalism and created an environment which encourages true craftsmanship and honors his Italian heritage.
From his humble beginnings in the region of Umbria in Central Italy, Brunello Cucinelli grew up in a very simple home without even electricity. He began his company in 1978 with a small batch of hand-dyed cashmere sweaters. Several years later he moved to the hilltop village of Solomeo, the hometown of his wife Federica, and began the process of reviving the 12th century village, which had a population of less than 500. His first step was to restore a medieval castle that now serves as the company’s headquarters. As the company continued to grow, he expanded the collection to include a Brunello Cucinelli men’s collection as well as accessories for both men and women. He needed larger production capabilities, so he acquired and refurbished several existing facilities within the town rather than build new ones. He brought industry back to this small town and worked tirelessly to re-energize the community. The picture-perfect beauty of Umbria is interwoven throughout and he has worked tireless to maintain the integrity of the historical architecture. From the thick castle walls of the factory to the employee dining hall housed in a Renaissance villa, the respect for the craftsmanship of Italian artisans is on full display at all times. The sweeping views of the lush countryside are a constant reminder to respect the land from which the materials derive.
Creating an atmosphere of inspiration is integral for those who work for the company. Whether it’s the buildings where they work, the food that they eat, or the items that they produce, the company seeks to interject beauty into all aspects of life in Solomeo.
In 2013 he established the Solomeo School of Arts and Crafts to foster and teach the highest level of craftsmanship and ensure that the level of artisanal creativity would be preserved for generations to come. The Solomeo School of Arts and Crafts was inspired by visionaries John Ruskin and William Morris. It has been teaching the highest form of Italian craftsmanship since its inception. The school focuses on integrating technology into the great workshops of the past. The focus is on the disciplines of tailoring, art of knitwear and textiles as well as agriculture and masonry. Students that enroll have the opportunity to understand the true value of craftsmanship as a form of art. The manual skills taught are the sincerest form of creative expression. While they may look back in time to replicate workshops of the past, they very much look to the future by integrating innovative technology. This marriage of integrity and innovation is ever present within the company and is evident in the level of quality of products that it produces. Brunello Cucinelli strives to create an environment in the School of Arts and Crafts that focuses on the dignity of the work, the shared heritage and the community as whole.
He has ensured the success of the community with several additional initiatives within the community of Solomeo. Anyone who visits will instantly feel Brunello Cucinelli’s influence upon the village. The classically designed Cucinelli Theatre is housed in a classical building with seating for 200. Upon entering, one is instantly transported back in time to all the glory of the Italian Renaissance with Roman columns and breathtaking views of the hills. The theatre has hosted a variety of performances, ranging from plays and concerts to other events celebrating culture. It has also been used for meetings or conferences.
In the 40 years that Brunello Cucinelli has been in Solomeo the company has grown tremendously and they have needed a more robust corporate headquarters. To insure the beauty of the region would never be sacrificed, they have created the “Project of Beauty” which created various parks, gardens, orchards, and fields surrounding the corporate buildings. All of these serve to feed the soul and spirit of the surrounding community. This philosophy extends to philanthropy as well. The Brunello and Federica Cucinelli Foundation was established in 2010 and is an integral part of the company. It supports and promotes enhancing knowledge, preservation of land, tradition, and spirituality. It places special emphasis on the local region surrounding Solomeo, but seeks a world view on the global view of happiness.
It’s this remarkable philosophy on life, which he refers to as Humanistic Capitalism that truly sparked a friendship between the Mitchell Family and Brunello Cucinelli. Bob Mitchell still recalls meeting him for the first time in Florence. “Over 20 years ago we bought 25 quarter zip sweaters. That evening, we had dinner together and at the conclusion of the meal, we sat outside enjoying a cigar and discussing our philosophies on life and business. It was at that moment, we both realized it was much more important to do business with friends than with partners. After countless dinners together and the phenomenal growth of the business from those 25 sweaters, it is that night in Florence that always stands out and truly cemented our friendship.”
We work together first as friends, second as partners. – Bob Mitchell
The Brunello Cucinelli collection is a true reflection of this philosophy of Humanistic Capitalism as well. It is all about embracing the natural essence of beauty. The pieces serve to respect their heritage. Whether it’s the whisper thin cashmere of a sweater or the intricate detail hand crafted by a tailor, honoring the spirit of the heritage is essential. The collection encompasses clothing and accessories for both men and women and is the finest example of casual elegance. The signature aesthetic of neutral tones, relaxed silhouettes and sumptuous fabrications is evident in everything the brand produces. The level of superiority allows the raw materials to shine through. The distinctive details like the monili beading or feathers are a perfect example of the understated elegance that the brand is known for.
Utilizing the highest quality of materials has always been top priority. Cashmere has been a key component in the Brunello Cucinelli collection, and the processes honed at the School of Arts and Crafts serves to respect the origin of cashmere. Cashmere’s history within the ancient communities of Central Asia, where it derives from, as well as it’s organic connection to nature is a part of what makes it such a special commodity. Originally used as a form of protection against the elements, cashmere was brought to Europe by traders and came to be used as a valuable commodity in luxury garments. The skilled artisans of Solomeo honor that heritage and Brunello Cucinelli cashmere serves to reinforce the notion of luxury that is interwoven with history and spirituality.
The wide range of products truly personifies the lifestyle of superior quality and casual elegance. The Brunello Cucinelli suits are handcrafted from master tailors, and Brunello Cucinelli sweaters are knit from the finest cashmere and wools. Both Brunello Cucinelli shoes and Brunello Cucinelli handbags are a wonderful compliment to the clothing for both men and women and are made from the highest quality leather and suede.
The pieces continue to expand upon themselves, encouraging the wearer to continue building their personal collection as most of the pieces can be mixed and matched with each other. Layering is also a key component and the pieces are made to be worn together. They are also meant to be handed down from one generation to the next preserving their legacy.