Living Lab of the Prato Textile District

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Information doc: 

Besnik  Mehmeti  Prato, Italia Telephone  +39 0574 183 5969 Fax  +39 0574 183 5984

Effective member: 

The Textile and Apparel sector needs to profoundly innovate its approach to R&D. Innovation in textile should open up to such quality factors as knowledge providers, successful entrepreneurs, creative designers and stylists, economic and institutional stakeholders and - last but not least - users or consumers. The T&A sector must improve its decaying image by promoting a dynamic and creative industry and encouraging 

socially responsible and consumer appealing production systems.  The LL paradigm goes in the direction of creating a user-driven open innovation ecosystem that involves consumers right from the beginning by actively involving  them in the productive process for the delivery of new products and services. This could clearly contribute to the challenged competitiveness of the T&A sector. Prato TExtile Living Lab (Prato TELL) aims to reduce the gap between the activities of T&A companies and universities and technological institutes, the creative phase and the needs of increasingly demanding consumers. Prato TELL expects the LL paradigm to deliver effective co-creative models for the design of new products, services and successful business models and gain valuable insights from its participation in the EnoLL network thanks to the exchange of experiences in the Textile & Clothing sector aimed at innovating the textile industry in the European and global context.


Prato TELL is committed to, and will benefit from “opening up” its productive network at the transnational scale - i.e., beyond the local T&A district – and fostering hybridization of competencies and know-how. This is one of the Prato TELL strategy’s fundamentals: to counteract the weakness of local SMEs due to their generally small size by fostering the creation of horizontally and vertically extended networks open to the entrance of new investors/partners in its supply chain. The advantages enjoyed by the European textile and clothing sector due to its ability to innovate and create new products are under threat from counterfeit products. The Prato TELL IPR issue has been of a completely public nature so far, but a more restricted approach in IPR matters for commercial productions could be considered once the Prato TELL model is thoroughly assessed. Public visibility is achieved in the framework of the TEXMEDIN project through several information channels including: website, newsletter, local and transnational seminars and conferences, exhibitions at T&A museums, etc.

References and Track Record

The Prato TELL facilities provide the following essential services:

1. Access point to the TEXMEDIN digital library (online database). The aim of this service is to look at the TEXMEDIN Digital Library and other web resources through thematic links related to textile archives, collections and heritage such as digital catalogues of museums collections, resources on contemporary textiles, and textile networks available on the web. The database platform is provided by the open source standard MySQL and is hosted on the Prato Municipality servers.  Cataloguing follows the Europeana standards plus other additional information “tables” for in-depth analysis such as:

Textiles technical forms

Composition and structural additional components

Identification of productive processes

Possible inclusion of audio-video contents on the tacit knowledge, such as interviews to the entrepreneurs, stories etc. Any other suggestion from the partners and target users (specially fashion students and designers)

2. Archive consultation service. The aim of the service is to consult phisically the archive of industrial textile collection - mainly over 250 sample books. Part of these fabrics are also available on the web, thus after looking at the digital library a user could ask to look at the sample books in real. The service follows the need of designers and technicians to see and touch the fabrics for real to take inspiration and re-use them.  

3. Specialized Library. The aim of the service is to open to the public a library with specialized books and reviews, mainly address to designers and students in the textile field. The purpose is to extend this service, creating a specialized library useful both for historical research and project works. The library contains publications about history of fashion, history of textiles, art, museums colletions, exhibition catalogues, design, history, sociology. It also hosts magazines and other media (video, cd-rom) on the same topics.

4. Training courses. The aim of the service is to provide training courses to fashion and textile designers, students, technicians, researchers and other users about  different tecniques - both ancient and contemporary - and features of textile design, history and making tecniques. For instance: hand weaving, digital weaving, figital printing, natural dyeing, felt making, embroidery, macramè and many others. The training courses take place in the Inspiring Lab spaces and need a specialized equipment. An important feature of these training courses is the attention paid to the re-cycling of ancient tecniques in a contemporary way.

5. Seminars/conferences. The aim of the service is to provide thematic seminars and conferences to all categories of public, with particular attention to target group of users and specialized categories (designers, technicians, enterpreneurs, students, researchers). The seminars carry on different matters: history of T&A, contemporary T&A, history of industrial archeology, urban changing, sociology and economy related to T&A districts, textile art and artistic movements.

6. Prototyping services. The aim of the service is to support designers, students and companies in developing new products and projects. The service springs from the awareness that prototyping isn't much available either in schools - which most of the times haven't got equipped labs - and in textile manufacturing: thus it's not easy to make samples of fabrics for privates and, above all, for students. The Prato TELL’s business model, financial sustainability and relative working staff are being defined under the TEXMEDIN project, which also allows the international networking of this innovative facility.