In the fashion world, he’s called “part businessman, part philosopher, part monk”. Who is Brunello Cucinelli? The Italian man came from humble beginnings and built an empire based on a unique philosophy. He has stayed true to his conscience and makes sure that his workers work under the best of circumstances. It works. Brunello Cucinelli’s brand is well known internationally. His business makes quality clothes without skimping on workers rights. He is also environmentally conscious, giving back to the land. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Brunello Cucinelli.
1. He was raised in a peasant family
Brunello Cucinelli was born on September 3, 1953 in the rural town of Castel Rigone, Italy. This small fifteenth century hamlet is near the Italian town of Peruga. Cucinelli’s parents were peasants who worked the land. He would be strongly influenced by the conditions that his father worked under. It would affect Cucinelli greatly as he built his fashion empire. He was driven to create a successful business without sacrificing the dignity of his employees.
2. He dropped out of school
Cucinelli’s parents encouraged him to study. He studied to become a building surveyor in undergraduate school and went on to study engineering. However, at 24 years old, Cucinelli dropped out of graduate school and pursued philosophy on his own. He read the works of the great philosophers, and this would become a great influence as he entered into the business world.
3. Dyed Cashmere Sweaters
Always interested in fashion and the latest trends, Brunello Cucinelli hoped to create something big from his ideas. In 1977, he began making cashmere sweaters dyed in bright colors in a small workshop near his hometown. The idea was an instant hit. The following year, Brunello Cucinelli founded Brunello Cucinelli S.p.A. using just $550 worth of lire. Eventually his brand would go public leading Cucinelli to a net worth of $1 billion in 2012.
Inspired by some of the greatest philosophers and fashion icons, Brunello Cucinelli has incorporated his beliefs with his fashion sense. As for fashion, Cucinelli has said that he was inspired by the casual sophistication of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Gianni Agnelli. As for his political and philosophical beliefs, Cucinelli was inspired by John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. He is inspired by the Pope and great philosophers including Confucius, Constantine, Palladio, Saint Benedict, Socrates, Kafka, Dostoyevski, Rousseau and Gandhi.
By 1985, Cucinelli had expanded his line to include luxury men’s and women’s apparel and accessories. Cucinelli established his company’s headquarters in the town of Solomeo in a fourteenth century castle that he restored. The castle remains the headquarters of his business which produces products all handmade in Italy. Today, the Cucinelli family owns 57% of the company.
6. Human Capitalism
Adhering to his philosophical beliefs and political doctrine, Brunello Cucinelli has created a fashion empire where his company produces high quality goods while maintaining the dignity of his employees. He was widely influenced by his father’s experiences working as a peasant during the mid-twentieth century. Brunello Cucinelli S.p.A. employs over 1300 people. Employees do not use a time clock. They are paid well and do not have to work overtime. Employees of Brunello Cucinelli S.p.A. earn 20% above the average of Italian workers. The company donates 20% of its profits to charitable causes.
Brunello Cucinelli S.p.A. continued to expand through the 1990’s. In 2000, the company was in need of a new factory. Instead of adding to the industrialized region, Cucinelli purchased abandoned factories at the foot of the hill where the headquarters perch in Solomeo. The company refurbished the abandoned factories to create modern buildings to house its new factories.
8. Solomeo School of Arts and Crafts
A big part of Brunello Cucinelli S.p.A.’s factories is the Solemeo School of Arts and Crafts. This is both a school and a workshop. Cucinelli created this feature to help those studying design, fashion and clothing. His hope is that this facility can be used to pass on innovative ideas of students and teachers to create a positive future for all.
In 1982, Brunello Cucinelli married a girl from his hometown, Frederica. Frederica has played a large part in the establishment and growth of Brunello Cucinelli S.p.A. The couple are partners in life and in business and both adhere to their causes of workers’ rights and giving to charitable causes. There daughters Camilla and Carolina carry on the tradition. Brunello and Frederica enjoy spending time with their grandchildren.
10. Awards and Honors
The Cucinelli family is well known for the dinner they host at Villa Palmier near Florence in Tuscany. The family hosts the benefit twice a year as they honor Florence’s Pitti Uomo Trade Show. Cucinelli has been honored many times. Most recently, in 2017, he was named in the Top 10 Best Dressed Men Alive by Esquire Magazine. He has received the Leonardo Prize, an honorary degree in Philosophy by the University of Perugia, The Italian Order of Merit for Labour in 2010, the Premio Guido Carli award in 2011. The Pitt Imagine-Uomo Prize, a Fashion Star Honoree Award by the Fashion Group International in 2014, and the Global Economic Prize for “Honorable Merchant” by the Government of Germany.