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By Chere Di Boscio
Brunello Cucinelli is known as ‘the king of cashmere’, with an eponymous luxury fashion brand selling womenswear, menswear and homeware based in Italy.
His 500+ employees are mainly based in a a medieval hamlet near Perugia, and although they are a large group, they often act as a family, eating outdoors together on tables groaning with Italian delicacies, or in the canteen which Cucinelli has ensured is stocked with gourmet Italian foods. If their work is suited to it, employees can also simply go home and be with their real families while they produce buttersoft cashmere clothing or crunch numbers for Cucinelli–he is a big believer in the dignity of work, and trusts his employee’s judgement in how they think they can be most productive.
Truly enamoured with the ‘green heart of Italy’, the designer has invested heavily in local restoration projects and the creation of a Forum for the Arts in the hamlet, where musical concerts, theatrical productions and lectures on philosophy are given.
In fact, the designer is passionate about philosophy, and he goes to debates twice a week. The second century Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, is a true inspiration to him: the Roman believed we should all live like this may be our last day on Earth, but plan as though we would live forever: in other words, live in the moment, but safeguard the future.
This is exactly what the designer aims to do not only with his wildly successful sustainable business, but in his personal life, too. He is a practitioner of Tibetan yoga, which he does daily, and claims the benefits of yoga are beyond what he ever expected: it has, he says, relaxed him immeasurably, improved his failing eyesight, and can even make hair grow back on balding pates.
While the cashmere that Cucinelli sources is all ethical, his work practices are what really make his company stand out. He believes that with modern life being as it is today, ‘there is a need to return to Ethics in every activity,’ and he has no problem taking the lead.
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