Chinese Conquer Prato
Known locally as St. Beijing, the Chinatown of Prato has been the mecca of what some residents call the “yellow invasion” since the early 1990s. Here, one can see the styles of Italian high fashion made with a traditionally Chinese approach in manufacturing; cheap labor and plagiarizing. Basic labor laws are avoided to be able to purchase tags that read “Made in Italy”. Sometimes working as long as 24 hours straight, sweatshop laborers sit in small rooms, often with their children, and sew and mend, and cut and measure in conditions that are considered illegal by European labor laws. As is symptomatic with globalization, cheap, efficient, and fast production is valued higher than the quality of treatment of the worker.
Today, clothing isn’t the only business where the Italians have competition in Prato. As a new waves of Chinese wash into Italy, even traditional Italian businesses such as wineries are becoming target for capitalizing. Prato has become a strange child of globalization. In fact, because of the boom of Chinese entrepreneurship, Prato would be left in danger economically if the visitors from the Far East were to go home. The streets are populated by two separate cultures that are very slow in learning to work with each other.