In the 1990s the trend of textile and apparel manufacturing in Italy differed considerably from other European countries with high labour costs. The examination of the peculiar factors generating the Italian specificity represents the first aims of this paper, and will be discussed employing statistical sources concerning market performance, industrial organization and retail structure. A second aim, of no less central importance, is the evaluation of the strategic behaviour adopted by Italian textile and apparel firms in front of competitive change on international market. Results emerging from a secondary research are presented. The analysis proposed focuses mainly on strategic market positioning and integration between manufacturing firms of the textile-apparel pipeline and clothing retail.