Suits on display in a store window in Rome, Italy.
Suits on display in a store window in Rome, Italy. - 
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Doug Krizner: In Europe, fashion tastes are changing. A new report says clothing sales are down in many countries once synonymous with style. Instead European consumers are spending more on tech gadgets. But there's still a bright spot for clothing retailers. Marketplace's Janet Babin reports from North Carolina Public Radio.

Janet Babin: If you've ever had the chance to experience the quality of an Italian suit, this next stat won't surprise you:

Italians still spend more on clothes than anyone else in the European Union.

But they spent 3 percent less in 2006 than they did 5 years ago. New data from Verdict Research found the top six E.U. markets are negative to flat in fashion sales.

Company analyst Maureen Hinton says it's the former Eastern Block countries like Lithuania, Poland and Latvia that are taking up the slack.

Maureen Hinton: Our mature markets are slowing down, but the new entrants to the E.U. are the ones that are really looking for new excitement, for new retailers, and it's where the opportunities lie.

Hinton says combined clothing sales in the E.U.'s 10 newest member states jumped by more than a fifth in the past three years. Slovakians alone upped their clothing expenditures by more than 35 percent.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.