Q. What's your vision for a business model that can be sustainable in the future - say 10 years, 50 years or even centuries to come?
A. The main aim of my life has always been to live and work while trying to respect human beings and their dignity. I believe that every enterprise, alongside its three- or five-year business plans, must have projects for the next 500 or 1,000 years. Live as if it were your last day and plan for eternity: I think this pretty well sums up my way of living and thinking. We've governed our enterprise feeling that we're "custodians" and not owners because if you feel like that, you won't be afraid to lose what you have and you can work with greater peace of mind.
Q. What has been the single most effective strategy you have implemented since you have founded the brand?
A. It's hard to answer this one in a few lines. The company has more than 30 years behind it, years of innovation and production involving high degrees of craftsmanship. If I had to choose one, I think it would be the insight I had about colouring cashmere, at a time when it was only [available] on the market in natural colours. That was probably what opened up the path to success for our enterprise.
Q. Brunello Cucinelli became an initial public offering in 2012. What have been the main changes over the past four years?
A. From the moment I decided to list the company on the stock market, about a year and a half beforehand, I started running it as if it already were listed. This is because I had been used to managing a "patronymic" company for more than 30 years "on my own". The IPO gave all of us a great sense of social, economic responsibility towards our shareholders, who may live on the other side of the world but, in some way, own a part of our village.
Q. How do you strike a balance between business expansion and production capacity?
A. If a company grows 7 to 8 to10 per cent a year in terms of sales, which is basically what we call "sustainable growth", we believe it can do this without creating problems in terms of the sustainability of its production capacity.
Q: What's your definition of luxury?
A. I think there's been too much talk of luxury in recent years. I think luxury is the very top of the "pyramid", what's called "absolute luxury". For me, luxury is a concept I associate with many activities in my life, such as a walk in the woods near my home and time spent with my family. In fashion, I think luxury can be summed up as a product of the highest quality and craftsmanship, not distributed excessively, almost "made to measure" [ideally speaking] for the customer.