Exclusive One-on-One with Fashion Designer Brunello Cucinelli

“I come from a family of farmers, and I had a very simple and blissful life as a kid because of the ease we had in our daily life,” recalls Brunello Cucinelli. Perhaps it was that ease that drove him to dream up an empire based on the idea of casual luxury derived from cashmere separates. But Cucinelli, who also enjoyed a brief, 2-year stint studying engineering, knew that he wanted to be entrepreneurial, and thus, the eponymous brand began. Inspired by the tradition of knitwear in his region of Umbria in Italy, Cucinelli set out to find the perfect juxtaposition between his Italian heritage, and the success of such brands as Benetton which he remembers garnering a lot of attention for their colorful wool sweaters. At just 25 years old, he took the leap, designing and manufacturing his first collection of thirty tunics for women, made of colored cashmere. Blasphemous at the time—cashmere was not done in colors, instead it was reserved for clean neutrals that spoke to its timelessness, and primarily, for men—the collection was innovative and fresh.

The idea behind it all was still about the kind of clothing that would speak to never-ending style. As Cucinelli explains it, “neutrals are at the base of the collections but it is important to always give something new, yet timeless to our clients. Colors were the innovation when I first launched my collection.” While color was at the helm of what first made the concept haute, it was the steady evolution that resulted in a long-lasting and loyal following. The injection of pieces in both the ready-to-wear and accessories portions of the brand aided in developing an aesthetic that would long be heralded as chic in a special, well-edited, and extremely Italian way. “In the past few years our final consumers [actually] came to know us for our grey palate, so for this fall I’ve decided to bring back some earth tones with pops of orange, yellow and green…but always with a softer approach,” explains Cucinelli, who has a strong connection to his client base. A connection that was key from the onset: “The journey started with the dream to create a new luxury collection but more importantly to create a company that would have a humanistic approach with principles based in ethics, dignity and morality.”

Keeping the consumer in consideration is unique in a world where success is most often measured in dollars. For Cucinelli, however, it’s key. “I always knew that no matter what I was going to do, I was going to put people at the forefront of my operation and their well being would be my priority. “ To that end, it’s no surprise that the Cucinelli camp describes their collections as lifestyle driven with sportswear at the helm. It’s about a wearable brand where one can feel confident and finished when in Brunello Cucinelli.

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