It started with an ugly pair of pants. "They were so upsetting, I buried them in the backyard," Brunello Cucinelli recalls of a defining moment in his youth. So began his quest to beautify the world with sumptuous earth-toned separates that are always easy on the eyes--and conscience. At his headquarters in Solomeo, Italy, Cucinelli's employees are treated as preciously as the clothes they create. "My people always come first," he says. It's a mantra that's felt in every handmade stitch.
"When we first moved to Solomeo, most of the properties were run-down. My love for architecture and the idea of turning this once-charming hamlet into our headquarters helped us focus our efforts. Now, 20 percent of our earnings go into its restoration."
Teatro Cucinelli in Solomeo.
"To support our family, my father left a farmer's life in the country to work in a factory. It was heartbreaking for me to see him come home demoralized by industrial work. It made me determined to bring a new humanistic approach to work that endorses a man's ethics, dignity, and moral values."