FLORENCE, Italy — Exhibitors at the recent Prato Expo trade fair were working overtime trying to find a way around the continued bleak financial outlook facing the Italian textile industry. With economic conditions weighing heavily on their minds, more than 150 exhibitors participated in the 48th edition of the show, held at Florence’s Fortezza da Basso Sept. 12 to 14.

Concern for the Italian fashion system is growing as the sector experiences one of its most difficult periods in 15 years. Statistics from the Italian National Statistical Institute indicate that, based on the first six months of the year, production totals for 2002 will most likely be no higher than those reached between 1998 and 1999 when textile production totals were at an all-time low. An increase in exports from China, plus the current crisis in the German economy — one of the largest markets for Italian textile producers — along with the continued global economic malaise continue to weigh heavily on the minds of Prato producers.

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