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The Values of Cashmere

Imagine my surprise today when I opened up my copy of Neiman Marcus’ The Book, looking for the best fashions for fall, and found a story that could have come right out of Fast Company.

The story, called “Ruling Class” by Harvey Sachs, is about designer Brunello Cucinelli, who is known as the King of Cashmere. The author writes that Cucinelli is ” … convinced that hard work ennobles life, but he emphasizes the difference between ‘honest work’ and that which causes people to sacrifice basic values or suffer from constant stress.” Cucinelli gives every employee keys to his workshop, and there are no time cards. He says he was inspired “‘… by the ideas of Theodore Levitt [the American marketing guru who said that the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer]. He believed in quality, marketing with a heart, and putting the clients’ interests before profit.'”

Cucinelli has been buying up the town of Solomeo, in the Umbria region of Italy where his company is located and where his employees live. He is building a theater and an arts academy there for the use of locals and visitors, ” … with the hope that they will endure years after he and his factory are gone.”

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