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Brunello Cucinelli: Understated Opulence

The high-end Italian clothing label Brunello Cucinelli has created a name for itself over the years by being among the rarest of labels strongly driven by its core philosophies.

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Brunello Cucinelli: Understated Opulence
brunello cucinelli
GQ

The renowned Italian fashion brand Brunello Cucinelli has carved out a niche for itself over time as one of the few labels deeply anchored in its guiding principles. This unwavering belief system stems from its founder, Brunello Cuccinelli’s immersion in philosophy during his formative years.
 
Hailing from a farming community near Perugia, Cuccinelli experienced a quintessential Italian rural childhood. Early on, he showcased an innate talent for creating unique and innovative designs. Instead of following a conventional trajectory in engineering, Cuccinelli chose to immerse himself in philosophy. Through in-depth study and reflection on philosophical works, he formulated personal beliefs that would later become foundational to his brand. For example, the Brunello Cucinelli brand is ardently committed to sustainability, a value influenced by Cuccinelli's early interactions with the environment. He once reflected, “My family lived in harmony with nature; it provided for us, and we revered it.”

Image Credit: Brunello Cucinelli

The seeds for the Brunello Cucinelli label were sowed when Cuccinelli came up with the intent of offering quality cashmere clothing–a material that was in strong demand in Western markets, especially Europe and North America. Cashmere sweaters–specifically Mongolian– were Cucinelli’s first offering. A

Apart from cashmere sweaters, Cucinelli also wanted to try something innovative–some may even say idiosyncratic for his time. For instance, In the 1980s, he and his then-new wife, Federica, established their fledgling label’s head office in a rather unlikely location: Solomeo, a 14th-century castle on the top of a hill in the middle of Umbria–a verdant region in central Italy. Instead of opting for the Italian couture hotspots of Milan and Florence, the couple opted for Umbria–a country outpost to channel their forward-looking, futuristic philosophies. “We believed that people should work in special workplaces as close to nature as possible. I believe it is useful to pass on humanistic values… because in them lie the roots of the future,” Cuccinelli said. “In the medieval castle, people worked in a pleasant and friendly working environment,” he reiterated. As the owner of the label, Cucinelli strongly emphasised the need to provide a nurturing workplace environment to his employees. 

Image Credit: PYMNT

Apart from establishing his office in Umbria, away from humdrum city existence, he also offered a non-traditional remuneration scheme to his employees wherein “it was normal to have no difference in remuneration between blue-collar and white-collar workers, it was [even] fair to have slightly higher than average wages or even a bit higher for those with artisanal skills.”All of these workplace features of the Umbria office of the label made it an exemplary example of an evolving worker rights landscape. This system’s efficiency and effectiveness even promoted popular research, including the Bocconi University in Milan, which conducted special research on Solomeo to understand its state-of-the-art philosophy. 

 

Label Brunello Cucinelli–Mission Tomorrow 
Despite being at the top of the ‘made in Italy’ section of the couture scene, the label isn’t sitting on its laurels. Instead, it is pushing on to make many inroads in different endeavours. Recently, the label has become the poster of the widely resurgent ‘Quiet Luxury’ movement. 

Since spring this year, the upper echelons of the world of couture have been swirling with whispers of an upcoming change: the era of ‘Quiet Luxury’ or, ‘Stealth Wealth’. Quiet luxury is new-age minimalism with an emphasis on putting on clothes with a pared-back look, usually offered in a range of neutral colour palettes. The aesthetic–given its subtle effusion of elegance–has been slowly yet steadily gaining ground. 

Brunello Cucinelli's unwavering dedication to producing elegant yet subtle clothing is gaining recognition as it resonates with a movement towards mindful consumption. “This year, we’re reaping the benefits of this shift in taste towards quiet luxury, which naturally benefits our brand,” Cucinelli remarked.
 

Image Credit: British GQ

Contrasting the ostentation often seen in the wealthy, the brand emphasises discreet luxury, a sentiment echoed in the HBO series Succession. Highlighting the brand's focus on craftsmanship, Caroline Cucinelli, co-president and co-creative director, states, “True luxury is about exclusivity and high-quality craftsmanship. Our artisans invest time in each garment, ensuring it's not hastily made. When you purchase from Brunello Cucinelli, you're also acquiring a piece of our artisans' stories.” She subtly suggests that the brand is well-positioned to thrive in the emerging 'Quiet Luxury' trend.
 



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