Brunello Cucinelli, the famous fashion designer and philanthropist, kicked off the prestigious menswear trade fair Pitti in Florence on Tuesday. Renowned for his commitment to social causes, Cucinelli has not only restored a medieval village, Solomeo, into a creative space and manufacturing district but has also sponsored the restoration of Norcia, a city devastated by an earthquake in 2016. His dedication to social causes extends to his workers as well, as he pays them 20% more than the industry average and generously rewards them with bonuses when the company goes public.

Despite the challenges faced by the fashion industry during the pandemic, Brunello Cucinelli’s brand has fared relatively well compared to its competitors. In the first nine months of 2020, the brand’s net revenues fell by 17.5% to €378.7 million. To gain insights into Cucinelli’s perspective on being a humanist entrepreneur, we had a Zoom interview with him at his home in Umbria. It was there, 18 months ago, that he hosted the Solomeo Summit, which brought together tech leaders from Silicon Valley to discuss a more philanthropic vision of capitalism. Cucinelli’s philosophy revolves around fair profit, fair growth, and a harmonious relationship with creativity.

Cucinelli draws inspiration for his vision of a New Social Contract from philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. He envisions a society where creation and harmony between humans, animals, land, and water are paramount. Reflecting on the past, Cucinelli believes that humans once lived in perfect harmony with nature, cultivating and tending to animals without the need for artificial fertilizers. However, the pursuit of productivity in modern society has led to imbalances, such as the depletion of groundwater due to excessive water usage. Cucinelli proposes a new equilibrium that restores the dignity of work and nurtures a fair relationship with creativity.

During our discussion, Cucinelli highlighted his meetings with Jeff Bezos, emphasizing Bezos’ desire to improve the world and uplift people’s living conditions. Cucinelli believes that both he and Bezos share a common goal of creating a better world. Reflecting on the lessons learned from the pandemic, Cucinelli underscores the importance of humility, kindness, and grace. He notes the reduction in food waste and the increased focus on minimizing harm to the environment and its inhabitants during the production process. Despite the challenges faced by Italy during the pandemic, Cucinelli believes that the country still holds a significant position in the global economy as Europe’s second-largest manufacturer.

Cucinelli reminds Italians to cherish their culture and heritage, asserting that the nation’s reputation as a bridge between Europe and the East will persist due to the enduring legacy of the Renaissance. Despite the hardships brought about by the pandemic, Cucinelli believes that society has emerged stronger and with a deeper appreciation for grace and the avoidance of waste.

In the aftermath of the events in Washington, Cucinelli expresses his belief that the attack highlights the need for a world built on love and relationships. He advocates for universal humanism and urges everyone to be open and welcoming. Quoting the wisdom of Solon of Athens, he cautions against the dangers of becoming tyrannical when in positions of power.

Regarding the future of fashion retail, Cucinelli believes that stores must be modern, captivating, and avoid showcasing outdated products. He predicts that after the pandemic, people will be eager to dress up and rediscover the joy of feeling fabrics. Cucinelli’s own store in Paris embodies this vision, featuring contemporary designs, an inviting atmosphere, and courteous staff.

In terms of style evolution for 2021, Cucinelli predicts a shift towards a more dressed-up and aesthetically pleasing look after a year dominated by casual wear. He envisions an easy chic style characterized by softer forms, slightly wider silhouettes, and slightly shorter pants. Knitwear will play a significant role, with chenille roll-neck sweaters in rich blues and greens making a statement. Cucinelli also explores the idea of combining knitted sweaters filled with down or layering cashmere knits over down jackets. As for suits, he embraces broad chalk stripes and deconstructed designs paired with turtleneck sweaters to create a luxurious and comfortable aesthetic.

Useful Links:
1. Brunello Cucinelli
2. Pitti Uomo