- REUTERS/Demetrius Freeman
- Tech execs like Jeff Bezos, Reid Hoffman, Drew Houston, Dick Costolo, and more recently traveled to Italy for a summit with fashion designer Brunello Cucinelli.
- The trip was an opportunity for the Silicon Valley elite in attendance to talk about how to make the world a better place, according to GQ.
- Brunello Cucinelli is a favorite in the tech world, both for his entrepreneurship story and his high-end, stylish clothes.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
What do Jeff Bezos, Reid Hoffman, Drew Houston, and Dick Costolo have in common (besides tech, of course)?
They’re all fans of high-end Italian fashion designer Brunello Cucinelli – such fans, in fact, that they recently all took a group field trip to visit Cucinelli at his home in Italy, according to GQ’s Samuel Hine.
Photos from the trip – which Nextdoor cofounder Nirav Tolia told GQ was called the “Solomeo Summit,” named after the tiny town where Cucinelli is based – were posted on Cucinelli’s Instagram account.
There’s a group shot, and another photo of the Silicon Valley crew sitting in a big circle. Bezos is notably absent from both photos, but GQ reports that he was in attendance.
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Over the last few days we have welcomed here in Solomeo my friends from the Silicon Valley, a place that is far away in distance but so close to my soul. How could I ever thank these guys, whom I consider the young Leonardos of the third millennium, for coming to visit me to our Solomeo, the Hamlet of the Soul, seat and source of all my dreams, a place where we strive to pursue the highest ideal of an economy imbued with humanity? I see it as a great honour. Together, in these days of friendship and reflection, we have confirmed once again our respect, safeguard and promotion of what has always been seen as the deepest treasure of people, the highest evidence of the original nobility of man, the utmost expression of freedom and moral supremacy: the soul. Although we deal with economic affairs on a daily basis, we have approached the ideals we uphold with the elegance of a noble discussion. Our ideas for the future entail the joy of a technology subject to humanity. The soul feeding the economy has been a dream and a gift of life, before becoming an idea. If the soul was ever imbued with ideals, well, over the past few days we have all felt it inside our heart. If humanism was ever reborn in the heart of our fellow human beings, over the past few days we have witnessed this joyful event. Our thoughts go out to the future of our children and those coming after us, endless happy years, and expression of a fascinating energy. That's why we believe that it’s just fair not to bridle our dreams but rather to plan for centuries, for millennia to come. These days in Solomeo have turned out to be some sort of “Symposium on Soul and Economics”. I want to thank from the bottom of my heart my loving guests who came to honour me with their presence Jeff Bezos, Marc Benioff (attending via a magnificent open letter addressed to the entire group), Ramin Arani, Ruzwana Bashir, Paolo Bergamo, Dick Costolo, Lee Fixel, Reid Hoffman, Drew Houston, Lynn Jurich, Sarah Leary, Alec Ross, Ned Segal, Rob Speyer, Nirav Tolia (who deserves my greatest gratitude for organizing with patience and passion this magnificent meeting), Trevor Traina. #brunellocucinelli #solomeosoulsymposium
So how did such a trip come about? According to GQ, Cucinelli invited the crew to his hometown to talk about how to make the world a better place, to eat, and to take walks in nature. And while some of the executives in attendance are actually fans of the clothing brand, all of them are fans of Cucinelli himself: He’s an entrepreneur, and a billionaire, and comes from humble roots like many Silicon Valley stars.
While we’ll never know what was talked about at the summit – or, as Cucinelli called it on Instagram, the “Solomeo Soul Symposium” – the designer seems unafraid to challenge powerful executives like Bezos.
GQ spoke with Cucinelli after the summit, and he told a story about a dinner he had with Bezos in Seattle prior to the summit. This is apparently what Cucinelli said to Bezos over dinner:
“I said ‘Jeff, you’re the richest man in the world, and in 500 years when my soul passes by Seattle and comes to see what happened here, what am I going to find? What have you left for the future as this important presence? What did you leave behind?'”
Bezos reportedly replied that he’s planning to go to space, which Cucinelli dismissed by saying that “people will live on planet Earth for many centuries to come” and that he’d like to come back in 500 years and see something built by Bezos, much like the Parthenon in Greece.
A Silicon Valley favorite
- Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Girlboss
While most people outside of Bezos’ tax bracket likely haven’t heard of Brunello Cucinelli or his eponymous brand, it’s revered in both fashion circles and tech circles.
Kevin Systrom, the founder and former CEO of Instagram, has also publicly proclaimed his love of the brand, although he prefers its sweaters.
“I love Brunello Cucinelli sweaters,” Systrom told the Wall Street Journal back in 2015. “You can spend a lot on them, and that’s not a bad thing.”
Systrom (who “liked” one of the group photos from the trip on Cucinelli’s Instagram) wasn’t exaggerating: According to Cucinelli’s website, one of his sweaters can cost as much as $3,345. Men’s suits seem to range in price from $3,000 to $6,000, and the opulently elegant “Shearling caban jacket” will cost you a cool $8,495.
- Brunello Cucinelli website
Silicon Valley stylist Victoria Hitchcock told Vox’s The Goods last year that she’s been working to get men in Silicon Valley to ditch beat-up Converse sneakers and t-shirts – or, as Trump would say, undershirts – in favor of high-end menswear from brands like Brunello Cucinelli and James Perse. (The latter does make t-shirts, but they cost $100 and are favored by Snap CEO Evan Spiegel.)
So while Silicon Valley overall remains hopelessly un-stylish, a select few very wealthy executives seem to be moving away from geek-chic and toward, well, chic.