This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution
to your colleagues, clients or customers
or use the "Reprints" tool that appears next to any article. Visit
for samples and additional information.
Order a reprint of this article now.
September 12, 2010
Chinese Remake the ‘Made in Italy’
By RACHEL DONADIO
PRATO, Italy — Over the years,
learned the difficult lesson that it could no longer
on price. And so, its business class dreamed, Italy would sell quality,
not quantity. For centuries, this walled medieval city just outside of Florence has produced
some of the world’s finest fabrics, becoming a powerhouse for “Made in Italy” chic.
And then, China came here.
Chinese laborers, first a few immigrants, then tens of thousands, began settling in Prato in
the late 1980s. They transformed the textile hub into a low-end garment manufacturing
capital — enriching many, stoking resentment and prompting recent crackdowns that in
turn have brought cries of bigotry and hypocrisy.
The city is now home to the largest concentration of Chinese in Europe — some legal, many
more not. Here in the heart of Tuscany, Chinese laborers work round the clock in some
3,200 businesses making low-end clothes, shoes and accessories, often with materials
imported from China, for sale at midprice and low-end retailers worldwide.
It is a “Made in Italy” problem: Enabled by Italy’s weak institutions and high tolerance for
rule-bending, the Chinese have blurred the line between “Made in China” and “Made in
Italy,” undermining Italy’s cachet and ability to market its goods exclusively as high end.
Part of the resentment is cultural: The city’s classic Italian feel is giving way to that of a
Chinatown, with signs in Italian and Chinese, and groceries that sell food imported from
But what seems to gall some Italians most is that the Chinese are beating them at their own
game — tax evasion and brilliant ways of navigating Italy’s notoriously complex bureaucracy
— and have created a thriving, if largely underground, new sector while many Prato
Chinese Remake the ‘Made in Italy’ Fashion Label - NYTimes.com
1 of 8
9/13/10 11:31 AM