Brunello Cucinelli - Cashmere
Business and tech philosophy from the King of Cashmere.
When I decided to start a knitwear business in 1978, Perugia was already one of the major towns in the trade and employed over thirteen thousand people. I got a 500,000 lire loan and set up a workshop, which made five colored cashmere sweaters for my first sample collection. Sales took off immediately, especially on the German market. The business grew and the time soon came when I had to make a major decision. Should I remain a good company like so many others or should I, in the words of American economist Theodore Levitt, whose ideas had inspired me to start this business in the first place, take a leap of faith and become the very best at specializing in a unique product? I chose cashmere because it is a highly specialized product: out of the whole fleece, you only use the fine fibers from a very small area beneath the animal's neck.
The cashmere region covers Afghanistan, India, China and Mongolia, where the Hircus goats with the prized golden fleece are bred. Cloaks and scarves were hand-made from this soft fiber as early as the 17th century. In the 18th century, the first scarves were brought back to England by the soldiers of the East India Trading Company and were so successful that they were copied and sold in France and then in the rest of Western Europe. Cashmere is made from the undercoat of these incredible animals. To survive in such a hostile environment, with freezing winters (-30 C) and hot summers, these goats have developed under their longer, tougher outer coat an under-down of thousands of super-soft, super-fine fibers, concentrated in a small area.
Every spring, when the weather is mild, the shepherds remove this under-down using a gentle combing procedure, which is entirely harmless to the animal. Around 250 grams of under-down is obtained from each goat per year, which is why cashmere is so precious. The difficulties associated with sourcing and inspecting the fiber further increase its value. Brunello Cucinelli and Cariaggi, his long-term spinning partner, make annual visits together to Mongolia and China to select the best quality cashmere. The wool is processed in the Solomeo workshops, where the skilled hands of master craftsmen transform the precious fiber into garments to be worn and treasured for a lifetime.
#farming - #fiber - #business - #wool