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A Trip to Brunello Cucinelli’s Solomeo

We travelled to Solomeo – and the picturesque headquarters of Brunello Cucinelli in the heart of Italy. There we saw first-hand a place that runs on care, dignity and a beautiful culture that leads to beautiful clothes.

By: Ben KrizDate: 2022-09-08

When you arrive in the picturesque medieval hamlet of Solomeo, Umbria and step inside the nearby palatial headquarters of Brunello Cucinelli – as is Italian custom – you’ll immediately be offered coffee. You’ll naturally accept. An espresso will be handed to you in fine Brunello Cucinelli-branded cups and saucers. Then, you’ll notice the two sugar packets sitting on the saucers in the perfect shade of brown, also adorned with Brunello Cucinelli’s wordmark (you’ll use one and pocket the other as a souvenir). The coffee will be excellent.

When you take a tour of the factory, where around 700 employees dedicated to quality and craftsmanship handmake hundreds of fine Brunello Cucinelli garments every day, you’ll find that the even factory workers look every bit the part, dressed in grey Brunello Cucinelli T-shirts as they delicately weave and hand-check a bevy of beautifully knit garments.

You’ll find that the tones you often find in his collections – browns, beiges, navys and whites; colours that express lightness, but also convey relaxation are all represented in the offices themselves. These colours are inspired by the headquarters’ surroundings, nestled in a valley in the Umbrian hills. You’ll also find the factory itself has been designed with enormous floor to ceiling windows that let as much light in as possible.

The worldbuilding Mr. Cucinelli and his team have done in Solomeo is tighter than one of his soft cotton T-shirts. Visually – it could not be more stunning, more impressive. And if Solomeo was only concerned with aesthetics, that would be one thing, but what is truly impressive is that it goes so much deeper.

For Brunello himself, Solomeo seems to represent the core of not only his business, and his family (who also live in the hamlet) – but his and his employees’ spiritual life.

This drive to create a place that provides for those around him stems from Brunello’s childhood as the son of a peasant farmer. After many years of struggling to provide for his family, Brunello’s father traded rural life for a job at a cement factory in the city. But the work was dehumanizing, and Cucinelli Sr. was regularly humiliated by his boss. As Brunello recalls, his father came home one day and asked what he had done to offend God to be so demeaned. His father’s struggles convinced him to dedicate his life to “the dignity of humankind.”

Decades ago, Solomeo was suffering a fate many villages in Italy are still facing – the population was abandoning the community for the city and taking their unique traditions and skills with them.

Fortuitously for the area, Brunello’s wife Federica grew up there. In 1985, Brunello moved his upstart business to the hamlet and never looked back. Since then, he has spent many years and many millions in rebuilding the community, employing the people and providing not only employment, but fulfilling work.

Initially, the business was established at the top of the hill in the refurbished 14th-century castle, but it was later relocated to the valley below to a 430,000-plus-square facility that now literally employs half the town. The parish church dedicated to Saint Bartholomew was also refurbished and a library and a theatre was built (it has hosted productions by such notable thespians as John Malkovich). He also constructed a grand travertine marble monument “to human dignity.”

Now the castle holds the brand’s School of Craftsmanship where new generations will be taught the skills and care that is so crucial to not only carry on traditions of the region, but create the beautiful garments we all love.

“You have to properly remunerate the people working with you because you have to convince the people to follow the path of craftsmanship, Co-CEO Riccardo Stefanelli told us from his office in Solomeo. “You have to convince the son and the daughters of our supply chain, of our supplier, to follow the path of their parents. But if you don't pay well, then they will never follow. They will never fall in love with this beautiful work of craftsmanship, of quality, of fashion.”

In Solomeo, employees are linked to the traditional and craftsmanship of the region but also to a high quality of life.

The cushy campuses of Silicon Valley or the tech offices of Toronto will offer unlimited snacks, nap pods and other amenities as an obvious gambit to keep their employees close to their desks, maximizing productivity. In Solomeo, Brunello’s entire staff takes an hour and a half lunch break where they can either enjoy a several course lunch in the company restaurant (with views of the hills) or, alternatively pop back home to eat with their families.

Touring the factory and the offices, the staffers smile and seem content at work – you can sense a great deal of pride.

Brunello Cucinelli’s employees are paid far over scale and he has prioritized that family and tradition take providence in an industry rampant with low-cost labour and poor working conditions. It is crutial that Brunello Cucinelli walk the walk as the collections must express the lifestyle he and his staff live.

As Luca Lisadoni, the company’s other Co-CEO told us: “I see our creativity nourished by the beauty of our landscape and flourish by the serenity of our country life. I always commenting this with my team, I like to imagine that through the softness of our cashmere, through the comfort of one of our pants, to the fit of one of our jackets, the customer of all over the world could for a second feel the pleasant sensation that often are associated to our Italian lifestyle.”

And what an attractive lifestyle it is.

Attention to detail, execution and meaningful relationships have been values Harry Rosen has been built upon since Harry himself founded the company and so it is no wonder we’ve always had an incredible relationship with Brunello Cucinelli. It’s touching to see a man give back and do good – even as his company has gone global and gone public.

As we left Solomeo, the warm glow of the sunset caressing the hills, we reflected on the beautiful culture in this place that recognizes its people are a huge part of creating beautiful clothes. The incredibly high standards and effortless luxury is a huge part of the attractiveness, yes but also you can almost see the dignity come through in every garment.

Discover the F/W ’22 Collection

Made in Italy craftsmanship gives life to Brunello Cucinelli’s refined and contemporary new collection.
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