Stories of Prato:
People of Prato

The rag merchant

The symbol of the golden years of the Prato textile industry

The famous Prato writer, Curzio Malaparte, summed up very well the rag merchant’s enormous importance for the world of fashion and for the city of Prato when he wrote in Those Cursed Tuscans: "In Prato, where everything comes finally to rest: glory, honour, pity, pride, the vanity of the world.
The purchase of rags at very low prices, and the extraction of wool from them through special procedures, made it possible to use them again as raw material in textile manufacturing: the so-called "regenerated wool" that even in its name conveyed the sense of profound renewal.
The rag man's job is hard to describe, it is the result of great tactile experience, the ability to identify the composition of the second-hand garment just by touching it.

As an artist dealing with colours, the rag man picks up garments, sorts them by weight, composition and colour and at the end of the day is surrounded by clothes divided into a palette worthy of the greatest painters of our century.
It is a difficult but exciting job, which the elderly talk about with the enthusiasm of those who have had an adventurous life: the clothes conveyed the stories of those who had worn them, and they often concealed nice surprises such as souvenirs, coins, objects, and sometimes real treasures sewn into the lining.