Made in Italy, by Chinese: how Chinese migration changed the apparel production networks in Prato Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Lan, Tu
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography
  • As a prototype of the Italian industrial districts (IDs), Prato has become a unique case in Italy and hosts the second largest Chinese community in Italy. In the past two decades, a Chinese apparel industry in Prato, known as the <italic>pronto moda</italic>, developed from a few stitching workshops into a full-fledged production network, including designing, manufacturing, and wholesale. Exclusive ethnic enclave and widespread irregular labor have triggered social tensions between Chinese immigrants and the local society. This dissertation investigates the formation of this immigrant's industry, the expansion of its global production networks, and its interactions with the local institutions. In conversation with the literature of industrial district and global value chains, it argues that the apparel value chains created by Chinese immigrants in Prato have been a historically contingent consequence of regional economy and national institutional contexts. There are three main findings in the dissertation. First, the emergence of the Chinese <italic>pronto moda</italic> is a unique response to the rise of fast fashion and regionalization of apparel production in Europe. In particular, it targets to low-end fast fashion and fills the specific niche market between the European fashion brands and Made-in-China garments. Second, the social tensions in Prato have to be understood in terms of its conjuncture. Power asymmetry within Chinese <italic>pronto moda</italic> has resulted in a specific spatial pattern of "subcontracting the visibility", which in turn triggers conflicts between Chinese and Italian communities. Finally, to integrate and regularize the Chinese apparel industry requires a transformation of the existing institutional framework in Prato, and the future of Prato may rely on the transnational business community between China and Italy. By so doing, this dissertation attempts to dislodge two major myths in the literature of industrial district and Chinese migration. On the one hand, Prato has been never an endogenous entity, and the recent Chinese influx is one of the many exogenous forces that shaped and are still shaping the Pratese economy. On the other hand, neither a passive sufferer nor a government conspiracy, the Chinese migration to Prato has actively responded to institutional contexts in quite innovative ways.
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  • In Copyright
  • Kirsch, Scott
  • Pickles, John
  • Luisetti, Federico
  • Grossberg, Lawrence
  • Cravey, Altha
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2014
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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