Artisanship but also innovation, industrial manufacturing but also widespread entrepreneurship, cutting-edge technical schools, and universities, but also knowledge handed down for generations: from this happy and unique combination formed over the centuries, a district and a supply chain created textiles that are the reliable and efficient reference point for those who make fashion and clothing all over the world …
The largest textile center in Europe
Aesthetics research, creativity and technique have characterized the textile district of Prato since the end of the nineteenth century, but the specialization of Prato in the production of fabrics has even more ancient roots, in fact, already since the eleventh century, Prato has been a protagonist in the production of wool. However, the real boom came in the seventies when, in addition to traditional carded wool fabrics, the production and processing of cotton, viscose, linen and silk fabrics began.
Even today, after more than two centuries, the Prato textile district is the most important in Europe and one of the most influential centres in the world for the production of high-quality fabrics and yarns for the world of fashion and the confection of Made in Italy clothing. the Textile Museum founded in 1975 to tell this story to the world and share the culture of the Prato district, is a large cultural centre dedicated to the history and enhancement of ancient and contemporary textile productions of Prato.
Since the seventies, Prato has been able to take advantage of the artisan knowledge established over the centuries within an extremely dynamic social and cultural environment, without ever neglecting its key characteristics: uniqueness, attention to detail, manual skills, and love for the resulting product.
From the fusion of these elements with the technical skills of the craft, the historically accumulated heritage of plants and the ability to offer continuous creativity, aesthetically and structurally unique fabrics are created with high quality noble fibres.
The success of the textile district of Prato is also due to the particular organizational form of production which typifies the industrial district. The characteristic feature of these districts is the high division and high specialization of work among many small businesses. This organizational model continues to combine efficiency / scale and flexible production / widespread creativity: each a fundamental ingredient for successful competition in fashion productions.
The approach used is therefore one that aims for operational efficiency in which several co-makers collaborate with each other to create exclusive quality, and high-value fabrics, always maintaining a rapid response time to the market.
Number of companies in the Textile District
(about 40% of total companies in the Prato area)
Number of Local Units of the Textile District
Local Unit Workers of Textile Enterprises in the Prato District
Innovation and textile enhancement
Prato has always been a dynamic area, naturally oriented towards research and innovation. From products, processes to the organization of production factors, Prato has always looked to innovation with proactive ideas especially in regard to the final stages of fabric production, the so-called “Ennobling”.
By “textile ennobling or textile finishing” we mean all the operations carried out on raw fabrics by companies aimed at particular phases to improve the aesthetic characteristics (colour, feel, texture, etc.) or chemical-mechanical characteristics (non-shrink, crease-resistant, inflammability, etc.)
of the fabrics, or to give them particular properties (stain-resistant, antibacterial, etc.) in order to make them more pleasing to the appearance and more responsive to the needs of the market.
In the Prato district there are dozens of companies specialized in finishing (ennobling), which with their experience and their attention to technological innovations, ensure that fabric from Prato is always at the origins of fashion and, at the same time, fully compliant with regulations. eco-toxicological standards in force and with the even more stringent parameters required by the international clothing industry.
Innovation and industry 4.0 (technological and regenerated complexity)
In addition, thanks to new possibilities offered by the modern era and technologies of industry 4.0 (the connection of machinery, the digitization of processes, the integration of the supply chain with dedicated systems and virtual marketing) today, excellence throughout the industry, is undergoing a major digital transition.
The technological mix of automation, information, connectivity, and programming that has led to the change in the technological and cultural paradigms of the whole district, as we can see from the data below, the continued increase of investments in research, innovation and new skills continue to increase.
The circular economy in the pratese textile chain
Another strong point of the Prato textile chain is the regeneration of textile fibres (primarily wool and cashmere). In fact, clothing products can also be made with (mechanically) regenerated fibres, i.e., obtained from new or used clothing, scraps of knitted fabrics and woven fabrics, or even scraps from spinning or weaving processes.
Regeneration, recycling, and reuse are in the DNA of the Prato production reality.
In fact, since the mid-nineteenth century Prato has recycled “rags” from all over the world, to the point of today being considered the world capital of the transformation of post-consumer textile materials: hundreds of companies from Prato are engaged in the various stages of processing, preparatory to the reintroduction of fibres in the carded cycle (collection, sorting, fraying, washing, blending) and the district currently recycles more than 15% of the recycled fabric globally.