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Where am I Wearing?: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes Hardcover – 12 Dec 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (12 Dec. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470376546
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470376546
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.6 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,882,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"If you are interested in learning more, I recommend Kelsey′s book. It′s light reading...Give it a try!" (, 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.

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Format: Hardcover
Kelsey Timmerman is a travel writer who one day took notice of the labels inside his clothes and a quest began. For those of us familiar with the recent British television investigations into clothing manufacturers used by discount retailers, Timmerman's book will be quite revealing.

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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 31 reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHERE are YOU wearing? 16 Nov. 2008
By NoBooksNoLife - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This outstanding, unassuming book should not be missed--it is worth reading and discussing in every household and classroom in America. Do you know where your clothes were made, by what types of people and under what circumstances? Do you care? Should you care? This intriguing book looks into these issues and more, yet its tone is refreshingly accessible and unpreachy.

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.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you own clothes, you have to read this book! 15 Nov. 2008
By Tim Bete - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is one fantastic book. "Where am I Wearing" is a thought-provoking book that raises more questions than it answers -- but that's Timmerman's main thrust: economic justice is a tricky business, with few black or white answers. Timmerman comes across as a very likeable, average American -- not an academic type at all. His profiles of those who make our clothing are riveting. Anyone interested in social justice, clothing or crazy road trips should read this book. I just hope Timmerman writes a sequel -- maybe, "Where am I Eating."
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Greatest 23 April 2009
By Corrian - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for a fluffy, easy to read narrative on this subject, then buy this book. If you want a thought provoking work that truly addresses the issues then this is not the book to buy. This book reads as a narrative of "I went here, and I saw this" written in very mediocre language by a self-professed "beach bum." There is little, if any research aside from the author traveling to the places and speaking with workers. While the book is very enjoyable to read, it's very light on the facts, and unfortunately I was left feeling unfulfilled by the end. A great into to the topic of the global clothing market, but don't expect to learn much from this book.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HIGHLY Recommended 15 Nov. 2008
By ThoughtsofTHATmom - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have just finished reading one of the most provocative books I have ever come across. This book left me intrigued and fascinated with where my clothes are made. Not only that, but it left me wanting to know the origin of everything I use on a daily basis. I doubt anyone could leave this book without feeling the need to do something.

"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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful way to present our Global Society 11 Aug. 2011
By Barbara D Smith - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was assigned to my son for an AP class he is taking. I was worried that the class would be to much, so I read the book first. I couldn't put it down and read it all in one evening. The author is careful to present the human aspects of "It's a Small World After All" He introduces us to the people who make the clothes we wear everyday. He presents their lives just as they are, almost as if he stepped back in time to the late 1800's here in America. He reminds the reader that working hard for little money is better than not working at all. That most developing countries go through a development stage, where each generation works hard in hopes that the next generation will have more. That time is slow and so is progress. I only hope that the rest of my son's AP class is as good as this first assignment. This is not a dry book of numbers or preachy.
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