Where am I Wearing?: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make Our Clothes / Edition 2by Kelsey Timmerman
Pub. Date: 11/24/2008
Ninety-seven percent of our clothes are made overseas. Yet globalization makes it difficult to know much about the origin of the products we buybeyond 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
Ninety-seven percent of our clothes are made overseas. Yet globalization makes it difficult to know much about the origin of the products we buybeyond 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 laborthe 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 worldsthat of impoverished garment workers and his own Western lifestyleTimmerman 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.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Table of Contents
Prologue: We Have It Made xiii
Part I The Mission
Chapter 1 A Consumer Goes Global 3
Chapter 2 Tattoo's Tropical Paradise 13
Chapter 3 Fake Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Anti-Sweatshop Protestors 17
Part II My Underwear: Made in Bangladesh
Chapter 4 Jingle These 23
Chapter 5 Undercover in the Underwear Biz 33
Chapter 6 Bangladesh Amusement Park 39
Chapter 7 Inside My First Sweatshop 45
Chapter 8 Child Labor in Action 53
Chapter 9 Arifa, the Garment Worker 59
Chapter 10 Hope 69
Chapter 11 No Black and White, Only Green 75
Part III My Pants: Made in Cambodia
Chapter 12 Labor Day 85
Chapter 13 Year Zero 91
Chapter 14 Those Who Wear Levi's 99
Chapter 15 Those Who Make Levi's 107
Chapter 16 Progress 133
Chapter 17 Treasure and Trash 143
Part IV My Flip-Flops: Made in China
Chapter 18 PO'ed VP 151
Chapter 19 Margaritaville 161
Chapter 20 Life at the Bottom 163
Chapter 21 Growing Pains 175
Chapter 22 The Real China 187
Chapter 23 On a Budget 197
Chapter 24 An All-American Chinese Wal-Mart 203
Chapter 25 The Chinese Fantasy 211
Part V My Shorts: Made in the USA
Chapter 26 For Richer, for Poorer 219
Chapter 27 Untold Stories 233
Appendix Where Are You Wearing? The Inexact Science of Finding Out Where Your
Clothes Were Produced 245
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A little slow but I learned a lot and it was really surprising to learn where our clothes come from. Highly recommend
Sometimes you read a book that is so boring you can't find much if anything to say but "boring". The book is so slow and I didn't learn anything from it. Don't waste your time.
This book is really eye opening as to where your clothes are made.
Well, it seems kind of appropriate that Where Am I Wearing is being released today from John Wiley & Sons. After all it's Black Friday this week in the U.S.
Many of us will be buying clothes for gifts or ourselves. But do you ever really wonder where the item is made? Do you look at the tag as part of your decision or are you just happy to get a good deal?
Kelsey Timmerman did a little bit more that wonder. He decided to find the factory in Bangladesh that produced his favourite 'Jingle These' boxers. And his jeans, tee-shirt and flip flops.
And so off he treks to the other side of the world to discover the origins of his clothes.
In Bangladesh, he poses as an underwear buyer to gain entrance to view the factories. While most of us will speak out against sweatshop labour, Kelsey finds that nothing is as cut and dried when faced with actual people and their lives.
"My own conclusion, after visiting Bangladesh, is that we should not be ashamed that our clothes are made by children so much as ashamed that we live in a world where child labor is often necessary for survival."
He has great fun with some street kids, taking twenty of them to an amusement park for the same price it would take to get one American kid into Disney World.
It is this aspect that I enjoyed the most in Timmerman's book - the personal level of interaction - meeting with and talking to the actual workers of the garment industries he visited in their own environments.
Timmerman's writing style is entertaining and candid, but still explores the history of the garment industry and what is being done to reform it.
In Cambodia, home to his treasured pair of blue jeans, he discovers that 75% of the country's exports are garments. Again, it is the personal stories of the eight female workers sharing a 96 sq. ft. room that grabbed me.
It is in China that he has the most difficulty accessing a factory. But he connects with a married couple working in the flip flop factory. They provide for family back in their rural village and have not seen their son in three years. Kelsey decides to go to the village to visit.
Back in the US he visits a garment factory that made his oldest and still wearable shorts.
Timmerman provides no black and white answers but instead gives us much food for thought. Where am I Wearing is a fascinating, eye-opening, thought provoking read that will have you reading tags just to see where your favourite piece of clothing was made. Perhaps it will make you think a little bit longer before you get out the wallet and help you become an informed consumer.
"When I walk into my closet, I think about the hundreds - if not thousands- of people around the world who had a hand in making my clothes. Jeans are no longer just jeans, shirts no longer just shirts, shoes no longer just shoes, clothes are no longer just clothes. Each is an untold story."
(So far - Canada, US, Bangladesh, Taiwan and China - what about yours?)
This outstanding little 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) became 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."