The Italian impresario of cashmere clothing, just restored the medieval village of Solomeo to leave a long-lasting legacy, a symbol of his work and dedication to humanity
On September 5th of last year, he invited more than 500 members of the international press and fashion world to his hometown Solomeo to show the world that his humanity driven cashmere and clothing label was not just a bunch of nice pictures in magazines but a reality.
Everyone was there, seriously, every big men’s fashion magazine editor-in-chief plus lots of prominent fashion journalists, big time buyers and revered critics. The weather was beautiful and Cucinelli treated us to a tour of all the buildings he had restored in and around Solomeo, bringing back life to an industrial outskirt of the town, which was suffering from the younger population moving away to the bigger cities. Cucinelli changed this trend and restored the local church and theater, built a monument called “Tribute to Human Dignity”, a 24 meter long and five meter high colossus, added a wine cellar, a football field, libraries and of course updated factory halls where his garment workers are exposed to sunlight, can eat good food in the canteen and are generally happy campers.
All this is remarkable in itself. But we are writing this because Cucinelli has achieved something else. In a time where storied lifestyle brands like Ralph Lauren – which stands for the American West, patrician WASPYness, English tailoring and country life – is in real danger to become obsolete, Cucinelli on the other hand has built an Italian lifestyle brand from scratch. It sells not only cashmere sweaters and cardigans but also suits, shirts and women’s dresses all imbued with the flair of an aspirational Italian country lifestyle. Sales doubled in the seven years since its public listing in 2012 realizing a success story for the humanistic capitalism he strives for. Yes, wearing these clothes will make you look like a country gent as in drinking fine wine, driving an old Alfa Romeo and supporting the local football team. Only recently Cucinelli announced the ambitious plans to double his company’s revenues in the next ten years and revealed he is launching a children’s line.
No other brand stands for Italian lifestyle like Brunello Cucinelli
He cares about the future. “The corporate governance is in my hands until I am alive, and when I die, my two daughters, who each have a 50 percent stake in the company, will be helped by three wise men who have already been identified and they will be guardians so that the company has no chance of getting stuck,” he told WWD recently. His new flanks: Riccardo Stefanelli, the husband of his eldest daughter Camilla, and Luca Lisandroni, who joined three years ago from Luxottica, a company Cucinelli has admired for a long time. So, let’s see how far a philosophical spin on fashion can go.
This article appeared first in Achtung Mode Nr. 37 (April 2019).