Connect with us



Perhaps not coincidentally, that sounds a lot like the perks a young code jockey would find at Google or Dropbox—except Cucinelli has been doing it since 1978, and speaks on it with the passion of a saint. (Or just a philosopher: he’s also famous for peppering conversations with declarations by Hadrian and Kant.) “How many tech companies,” Tolia notes, “have even had a 40-year run?” In Solomeo, Cucinelli has not just constructed a moral framework for dignity under capitalism, but he has implemented it in a way that benefits his workers, his community, and his product at a public company that does hundreds of millions in sales a year.

As Silicon Valley began coming under siege for… not doing any of those things, Cucinelli’s message found a receptive audience. Speaking via translator from his castle office in Solomeo, Cucinelli tells me that in 2015 he met Marc Benioff, the billionaire founder and CEO of Salesforce, in San Francisco. The famously philanthropic Benioff was taken by Cucinelli’s humanistic way of work, while Cucinelli was impressed by the fact that Benioff and his friends were quite literally the agents changing the world as we know it. At the time, Cucinelli issued them a challenge: “I said, which one of you will be the first to really be a humanist in tech?”

The Solomeo Summit underway

Cucinelli and Benioff became fast friends. When an earthquake destroyed much of Norcia, a neighboring town to Solomeo and the birthplace of St. Benedict, one of Cucinelli’s spiritual idols, Marc was the first person to make a financial donation to restore the town. Cucinelli was soon a regular speaker at Benioff’s annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. Which is where, last year, Cucinelli was introduced to Jeff Bezos. (Bezos wasn’t coming in totally cold: While not exactly a “style icon,” Bezos has, in recent years, began wearing Cucinelli’s unstructured suit jackets.)

Cucinelli then flew to Seattle where, he says, Bezos welcomed him with a traditional Italian meal. “We spoke for two hours without him ever looking at his phone, without him making a call in the middle of it, just him fully present,” Cucinelli says. (Bezos didn’t respond to a request for comment.) As it often does with Cucinelli, the discussion quickly turned philosophical, and Cucinelli offered another challenge: “I said ‘Jeff, you’re the richest man in the world, and in 500 years when my soul passes by Seattle and comes to see what happened here, what am I going to find? What have you left for the future as this important presence? What did you leave behind?’ He said, ‘I’m working on a project that I hope will last 10,000 years. I’d like to go back to space.’” Cucinelli replied that people will live on planet earth for many centuries to come. “We spoke about Pericles and the Parthenon and I said I would like to come back and see something built 500 years before by Jeff Bezos.”

To continue their conversations, Cucinelli extended an invitation for Bezos, Benioff, and a group organized by Tolia to visit Solomeo in late May for a “symposium on the soul and economy.” (Benioff, who couldn’t make it, addressed the group via open letter.) “I was hoping they could isolate themselves for two or three days,” Cucinelli says. “To be able to speak about being in harmony with nature. To talk about how we need to look up at the stars more. What can we do for future generations ahead of us. What can we donate to humanity whenever we make a profit. What can we leave behind.” Topics that, Cucinelli says, “you need to be away from everyday life in order to be able to really focus on and discuss.” Fashion was not on the agenda. “I don’t think Brunello and I have ever had a conversation about fashion,” Tolia confirms.

Article written by Samuel Hine #GQ