Where am I Wearing?: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes Hardcover – 12 Dec 2008
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"If you are interested in learning more, I recommend Kelsey′s book. It′s light reading...Give it a try!" (BromleyTimes.co.uk, January 14th 2009)
"...his conclusion that "we should try to be engaged consumers not mindless pocketbooks" may be a valuable revelation." (Financial Times, January 24th 2009)
"...puts globalization into human perspective. He Personalizes the stories of the people who make our clothes...highly entertaining and thought provoking" (Manchester Evening News, January 24th 2009)
"Timmerman puts faces on the garment industry. This needs doing and he has the warmth, compassion and interest" (Irish Times, February 4th 2009)
"...some of the realities – and myths...It′s a personal take on a global issue. The corporate version of travel writing." (Ethical Corporation Magazine, February 2009)
"Timmerman pull us right in to the lives of these people – forced into a life of hard labour." (4Men Magazine, April 2009)
From the Inside Flap
Ninety–seven percent of our clothes are made overseas. Yet globalization makes it difficult to know much about the origin of the products we buy beyond the standard "Made in" label. So journalist and blogger Kelsey Timmerman decided to visit each of the countries and factories where his five favorite items of clothing were made and meet the workers. He knew the basics of globalized labor the forces, processes, economics, and politics at work. But what was lost among all those facts and numbers was an understanding of the lives, personalities, hopes, and dreams of the people who made his clothes.
In Bangladesh, he went undercover as an under–wear buyer, witnessed the child labor industry in action, and spent the day with a single mother who was forced to send her eldest son to Saudi Arabia to help support her family. In Cambodia, he learned the difference between those who wear Levi′s and those who make them. In China, he saw the costs of globalization and the dark side of the Chinese economic miracle.
Bouncing between two very different worlds that of impoverished garment workers and his own Western lifestyle Timmerman puts a personal face on the controversial issues of globalization and outsourcing. Whether bowling with workers in Cambodia or riding a roller coaster with laborers in Bangladesh, he bridges the gap between impersonal economic forces and the people most directly affected by them. For anyone who wants to truly understand the real issues and the human costs of globalization, Where Am I Wearing? is an indispensable and unforgettable journey.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
I liked the fact that Timmerman's first trip to Honduras to meet some garment factory workers turns out to be not such a success. He found it difficult to frame questions to workers, consequently feelt embarassed and returned home without having really achieved anything. I found this honesty refreshing and in stark contrast to the bolshy attitude of many crusaders.
However, the question remained in Timmerman's mind, and he decided to try again. He travels to Bangladesh where he gains access to a garment factory under the "guise" of an American website owner on the quest for cheaper merchandising. To our hilarity, the aforementioned Jingle These boxers are examined minutely by the garment factory manufacturers in order to determine their providence. He shares a day with Arifa, a determined and able worker in one of the Bangladeshi factories.
Timmerman continues his on his journey to Cambodia where he befriends a group of young female garment factory workers who make jeans andtakes them bowling and for pizaza, much to their bemusement. He then proceeds to China where he meets a young couple who live far apart from their son and family in order to work at the factory where the author's flip flops were made.
In all instances, Timmerman describes the surrounding economic situation of the country and the context/importance of the garment industry within that country. He reviews the western attitude to sweatshops and child labour.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
All-American Kelsey Timmerman noticed that his typical ensemble of T-shirt, jeans, boxers, and flip-flops, all bore tags declaring their foreign manufacture in places such as Honduras, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and China. His curiosity and his experience as a travel writer coincide in a mission to visit the places and meet the people who actually made his clothes. With a backpack, notebook, camera, the clothes on his back, and a mixture of guileless intelligence, he set out to explore the globalization of the garment industry, up close and personal.
His approach is to minimize the intrusive effects of his inquiry into the factories' operations and the lives of the workers by keeping his visits as unofficial as possible. He is just an ordinary guy who happens to be interested in the origin of his underwear. Although he has heard about sweatshops, child labor and unfit working conditions, he wants to see for himself. He wants to know if it's possible to be an informed, engaged consumer. His journey helps us see that we can all be better informed. The people who make our clothes all have names, faces, needs and dreams.
"[In Bangladesh] Asad leads us past a high table with neat stacks of cloth. A few of the workers standing around the table hold what appear to be giant electric bread cutters with blades two-feet long. One woman marks the cloth using a pattern and then sets to slicing. She cuts the outline of a T-shirt. Plumes of cotton dust fill the air...the factory is clean, exits are marked, and fans maintain a nice breeze. The conditions seem fine. They are much better than I had expected, and I'm relieved."
In Cambodia, eight young women garment workers share an 8' by 12' room that has a squat toilet and a water spigot. They earn between $45 and $70 per week and send home as much as possible to support family members in the countryside. Many of them miss the culture of family and village but they are well aware of the necessity of their work to their families' survival.
Seeing these and many more disparities between the lives of foreign garment workers and the lives of average American consumers, Timmerman is guarded about sharing details of his life with those he interviews. However, he eventually decides that "not knowing is the problem" on both sides. When he tells the Chinese couple about his first--and second--mortgages, they find unlikely solidarity in their mutual states of indebtedness.
This book is far from a "them" and "us" comparison and guilt trip. There are many complicated issues interwoven here, to be considered and discussed. The warp and woof of economic and social pluses and minuses is a constantly changing pattern, and the questions--what and where to buy, how to support or protest industry conditions, how to maintain American jobs, how to influence human rights--necessitate the participation of what the author terms "engaged consumers."
Where Am I Wearing? gives an excellent starting point for discussions in order to make informed decisions, as we determine a responsible course as the leading consumers of garments and other manufactured goods in the worldwide economic balance.
"Where am I Wearing" chronicles author Kelsey Timmerman's journey through the companies, factories, and people who make his clothes. His journey takes him from Honduras to Bangladesh, from Cambodia to China, and back home again to a company and factory in the United States. "Sweatshop" is not an unfamiliar word to anyone in America. Yet Mr. Timmerman leaves his tour with a much different view of the word and the garment industry than the reader expects.
Through his journey, Mr. Timmerman poses questions and proposes solutions that aren't typical of the garment-industry protester. In fact, he sets himself apart from these protesters by having actually visited the factories and met the people who make his clothes. As a homeschooling mom, Mr. Timmerman leaves me desiring to take a similar journey with my children. It's an experience every American could use in their lifetime.
The reader should be aware that reading "Where am I Wearing" might be uncomfortable. It might force you to look at your own life differently, and it will likely move you to action of some sort (even if just to look at your own tags before you get dressed in the morning).
Mr. Timmerman took a chance when he jumped on a plane to Honduras. It was a chance worth taking as he has produced a well-written, thoughtful book that is WELL worth the read.