MILAN — Brunello Cucinelli is joining the Sustainable Markets Initiative by funding the Himalayan Regenerative Fashion Living Lab.
As reported, the SMI Fashion Task Force is headed to the Himalayas in the first phase of a long-term, green fashion project and Cucinelli is on board through his namesake company.
The entrepreneur is flanking HRH The Prince of Wales and Federico Marchetti, chair of the SMI Fashion Task Force. The Prince of Wales launched SMI during the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2020.
“This project is very much in line with our own culture of recovering the land around us,” Cucinelli told WWD.
He is investing 1 million euros, committing to develop regenerative farming and to financially support local textile producers through the project. Over the years, Cucinelli has restored the medieval hamlet of Solomeo, where the company is headquartered, and contributed to several initiatives benefiting the local territory.
“I have always admired the prince for speaking up on global warming and sustainability — he did so as far back as the ‘80s,” Cucinelli said. “He also spoke often about repopulating storied hamlets in Scotland and he was interested in our Solomeo village. I met him at the G20 meeting [in Rome last October] and he is very fond of Italy.”
With an eye on fashion, Cucinelli segued into praising the Prince of Wales for his style. “He is super chic, among the most elegant men in the world. We have many of his images on our moodboards in the company.”
The project will restore degraded landscapes and recover traditional craft and textile skills in order to improve local cashmere, cotton and silk economies, while addressing global challenges related to climate change and loss of biodiversity.
The “Himalayan Regenerative Living Lab” project will be carried out in the field by Reforest Action and the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance led by scientist Marc Palahí and will last through 2022 and 2023. It will help to restore wildlife and sustainable farming to what has become an overworked and degraded landscape.
“This is a project about people who live where they are born and I like that,” continued Cucinelli, who plans to help the local communities to commercialize silk, cotton and cashmere products. “I am very confident in this project,” said Cucinelli, who is planning a trip to the area in October or November.
“Our Mother Earth has welcomed and nurtured us, it has allowed us to enjoy its wonderful resources, and it is our great responsibility to protect it as fully and carefully as possible,” he remarked. “I have always been fascinated by the East, by these regions of the world and the people who live where the landscape is so enchanting and the sky so close to man. It is with sincere enthusiasm that we have agreed to join a project of the highest humanity, so that various populations can continue to live in the places of their ancient life in harmony with nature. As in the case of Solomeo, I am convinced that landscape, economy, handicrafts and traditions are part of a whole, which the Himalayan Regenerative Fashion Living Lab project ingeniously conceives as a holistic whole.”
The investment in the Himalayas regeneration project is just the beginning, with more regions around the world set to receive funds in the coming months and years.
The SMI Fashion Task Force — which has 15 members including Giorgio Armani, Stella McCartney, Burberry, Zalando and Selfridges Group — will look to mitigate or reverse the impact of overfarming, overgrazing, dwindling water supplies and the long-term use of damaging pesticides in various regions.
The Sustainable Markets Initiative was conceived and is chaired by The Prince of Wales, aiming to build a coordinated global effort to enable the private sector to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future. The Initiative has a number of task forces, each dedicated to a specific sector — from fashion to banking to energy transition.