Prato is one of the largest industrial districts in Italy and one of the most important centers in the world for the production of clothing and furnishing fabrics, yarns, fabrics for special uses, knitwear and garments, and finally textile machinery.
The city’s textile vocation dates back to the 12th century but became a real industry only around the second half of the nineteenth century, to explode especially after the Second World War with the opening of new markets. At the beginning of the eighties Prato was referred to as an industrial district model. During the same period, changes in market demands obliged the district to question its production organization and its offer. Carded wool fabrics cease to be the exclusive product and companies are pushed to differentiate their products by introducing new fibers and processes.
The active companies are mainly small and highly specialized: for example the “wool mills”, they deal with stylistic research, design and sale, while the “contractors” provide the materials and realize some specific processing steps (spinning, weaving , finishing, dyeing etc.). The recent globalization of the fashion industry – with production delocalization, emerging markets, new production poles, new technologies – has led to numerous changes, with an increase in the phases downstream of the supply chain, such as knitwear and packaging, to it operates above all of newly established companies.
Prato today stands as one of the largest textile districts in Europe with around 6,500 fabric and clothing companies and 30,500 employees. The Museum is strongly rooted in this production context, taking care to communicate to the public the innovations and transformations of production, with a continuous work of archiving new fabrics and materials that flow into the Contemporary Section.