Brunello Cucinelli

MILAN Brunello Cucinelli’s press conference on Wednesday could not have come at a better time for the entrepreneur, as it was the morning after the Italian team beat Spain in the semifinals of the Euro Cup 2020.

The win was another reason for Cucinelli to tout the restart of Italy and he segued into praising the country’s craftsmanship, manufacturing prowess and resilience, as well as its leader, Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who in his eyes embodies “the best qualities of the country — he is polite and moderate, with a Benedictine rigor.”

The entrepreneur touted Italy’s “culture of beauty, not war,” and, in true Cucinelli style, he peppered his speech with quotes from Bertolt Brecht, Alexander the Great and Saint Benedict of Nursia before revealing two new initiatives: the launch of his namesake brand’s first eyewear collection in a collaboration with Oliver Peoples, and an additional project linked to the medieval Solomeo village, which he has restored over the years and that serves as the headquarters of his company.

Details of the latter will be presented in October at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan, but Cucinelli said it will take three to four years to be completed. In 2018, Cucinelli presented another chapter of the restoration of Solomeo, the “Hamlet of the Spirit,” as it is dubbed, which included the recovery of 173 acres of land, tearing down six old industrial buildings and planting vineyards, olive trees, sunflowers and wheat, among other things.

“It represents my soul and my dream, and will live on for a thousand years,” he said cryptically of the development, which will be supported by the Fondazione Brunello and Federica Cucinelli, and not by the publicly listed company he helms.

Referring to the IPO that took place in 2012, Cucinelli noted that the company has been growing at an average of 12 percent, except last year when it posted a 10 percent decrease due to the pandemic. In April, he said he expected growth between 15 and 20 percent in 2021, and on Wednesday he pointed to a 20 percent gain in revenues in 2021.

The market reacted well to the news and at the end of trading the company’s shares closed up 2.75 percent at 52.35 euros.

Cucinelli defined the eyewear collection as a first capsule, “a small and exclusive project of the highest elegance and craftsmanship.” It is not a license, but a co-branded, long-term collaboration, he explained. This choice is in line with Cucinelli’s long-held belief in steady, sustainable growth of his company, avoiding any kind of mass marketing initiatives.

Rocco Basilico, chief executive officer of Oliver Peoples, underscored the shared values between the two companies and the “meeting of people and talents,” with the goal to create “special and innovative products for the capsule which is the beginning of a new chapter.” While Oliver Peoples is based in Los Angeles, the Cucinelli eyewear models are produced in Italy.

Oliver Peoples was founded in 1987 and was acquired by the Luxottica Group in 2007 as part of Oakley. Revenues of Oliver Peoples amount to 90 million euros, said Basilico.

Cucinelli, confessing his long-held passion for Ray-Bans, expressed great respect for Luxottica’s founder Leonardo Del Vecchio, “a self-made man, a point of reference,” with whom he shares “a love for the territory.”

The collection will be available beginning at the end of September in Cucinelli boutiques, and the 45 existing Oliver Peoples stores as well as online and at specialized multibrand stores for a total of about 1,500 points of sale.

The capsule comprises five models, both optical and sun, inspired by Solomeo, and they are considered genderless. While the designs were not presented during the press conference, Cucinelli whipped out his own tortoise prototype in a honey shade.

Retail prices range from 350 euros to 1,000 euros. In metal and acetate, the lenses are made by Barberini, controlled by Luxottica since 2018, and designs will also include precious materials such as gold and engraved details.