Skip to main content

Tight Knit

Global Families and the Social Life of Fast Fashion

Tight Knit

Global Families and the Social Life of Fast Fashion

The coveted “Made in Italy” label calls to mind visions of nimble-fingered Italian tailors lovingly sewing elegant, high-end clothing. The phrase evokes a sense of authenticity, heritage, and rustic charm. Yet, as Elizabeth L. Krause uncovers in Tight Knit, Chinese migrants are the ones sewing “Made in Italy” labels into low-cost items for a thriving fast-fashion industry—all the while adding new patterns to the social fabric of Italy’s iconic industry.
Krause offers a revelatory look into how families involved in the fashion industry are coping with globalization based on longterm research in Prato, the historic hub of textile production in the heart of metropolitan Tuscany. She brings to the fore the tensions—over value, money, beauty, family, care, and belonging—that are reaching a boiling point as the country struggles to deal with the same migration pressures that are triggering backlash all over Europe and North America. Tight Knit tells a fascinating story about the heterogeneity of contemporary capitalism that will interest social scientists, immigration experts, and anyone curious about how globalization is changing the most basic of human conditions—making a living and making a life. 

304 pages | 10 halftones, 2 maps | 6 x 9 | © 2018

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Asian Studies: East Asia

Sociology: Occupations, Professions, Work, Race, Ethnic, and Minority Relations


“In this gut-wrenching ethnography of the “Made in Italy” label, Krause travels along the underground routes of the global fashion industry, where not only garments circulate, but also Chinese migrant laborers, their families, and their children, whose precarious claims to Italian citizenship expose the crisis of belonging in the New Europe. Tight Knit is what an anthropology of global capital ought to look like.”

Lilith Mahmud, author of The Brotherhood of Freemason Sisters: Gender, Secrecy, and Fraternity in It

“It is a truism that family never falls out of fashion; it is also a truism that fashion is quickly out of date. Tight Knit stitches these together, in a remarkable account of how global apparel supply chains intertwine with transnational families and the social and material bases of fast fashion entrepreneurship in Italy and Chinese immigrant labor. With implications for the rapid shifts in labor taking place not just in the fashion industry but more broadly, Tight Knit illuminates the mutual implication of family relationships and the complex fabric of the global economy.”

Bill Maurer, coeditor of Paid: Tales of Dongles, Checks, and Other Money Stuff

Table of Contents

Introduction: Tight Knit

1 Ethnography

Part I. Chinese Immigration and the Made in Italy Brand

2 Value
3 Money
4 Crisis

Part II. Global Circuits of Care

5 Checkup
6 Circulation

Part III. The New Politics of Urban Racism

7 Integration
8 Action
with Massimo Bressan

Conclusion: Futures



Society for the Anthropology of Europe: William A. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press