From Reuters, via the International Herald Tribune:
Artisan cobblers, bag makers and weavers are at the heart of Italy’s long tradition in crafts and design. But many smaller, family-owned businesses have been hurt by competition from low-priced Chinese imports. Former centers of the Italian textile industry in places like Biella, in northern Italy, are now home to crumbling, empty factories with smashed windows. Still, the artisans who slowly and skillfully make one bag, one pair of shoes, one evening dress at a time for major labels like Prada, Armani and Versace have resisted the decline.
In fact, the rise of China gives them added job security. In the crowded shops and traffic-clogged streets of major cities like Shanghai, the appeal of Italian design in an emerging market becomes clear. [Full text]