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Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A challenging view on the clothes we wear, 12 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Where am I Wearing?: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes (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. Overall, the reader is left with the conclusion that the author didn't visit anywhere that would disgust us, but rather visited places where life is tough and the only option open to many people is to work long, hard hours. It's not the child labour itself that is awful, but the fact that it is a necessity for many children in the developing world to work.

Despite Timmerman's journey, there is a distinct sensation of dis-involvement (is that a word?) or distance in the book. The author doesn't really make any moral judgements, but rather presents the facts for us to read and review. The pace of the first half of the book is somewhat lacklustre but it does gain some momentum and attraction in the second half as the author himself appears to warm to his quest.

The book is written very much in the style of a blogger, as opposed to a serious journalist, and is a suitable read for someone wishing to learn more about the world of cheap, mass-produced clothing. Timmerman doesn't overwhelm us with statistics and obscure legalities and economics, but presents it as he saw it. The decision is up to you.
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Review Details

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Reviewer

J. Cronin
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Ireland

Top Reviewer Ranking: 141,296