King of cashmere

The Business Times
By: Lena Kamarudin
Photo: Courtesy of The Business Times

Original content from The Business Times.

SOME PEOPLE FIND THEIR FORTUNE in gold, silver, precious gems. Brunello Cucinelli found his in a sweater. Not just merino or alpaca, mind you, but cashmere. His ability to spot the potential of this Rolls-Royce of wool in 1978 set the stage for the rise of his eponymous design house, where S$3000 for a sweater is common.

When he first began, "cashmere was only available in men's knitwear and in basic colours," Mr Cucinelli recalls. Given cashmere's longevity and superior quality, he took the bold step of dyeing cashmere to create his first designs - a six-piece collection of coloured womens sweaters.

One of the reasons Mr Cucinelli chose to work only with cashmere was his belief in the teachings of American economist Theodore Levitt, who promoted the value of specialising in one single product in order to enhance its quality. "But perhaps the most important one," Mr Cucinelli admits, has to do with cashmere's lasting qualities. "A cashmere sweater never ends up in the bin, it is passed on to others as its quality and charm last over time."

Coming from a humble background as a farmer's son, Mr Cucinelli learned empathy at a young age through hardships and life lessons imparted to him by his father. Which is why today, as the head of his cashmere-and-suiting empire, his business is driven not just by the bottom line but an altruistic spirit.

Read the rest of this story at The Business Times.