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.
This is not a typical book about the globalization of the apparel industry; Timmerman is neither an activist nor an industry defender. Indeed, he has no expertise or special interest beyond the fact that he wonders how the clothing he wears is made. Presenting himself as the ultimate boy next door from a working-class family in Ohio, he uses a casual tone more reminiscent of blogging than muckraking. His curiosity about the origins of his T-shirts, sandals, and other clothing leads him to factories in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, and Honduras. He takes on the project with few preconceptions and little knowledge and perseveres with a charming lack of guile. That sincerity, plus an honest skepticism, allows him to avoid preachiness. This book does not explore the reasons for global inequalities and cannot replace even journalistic accounts, let alone scholarly ones, but for readers seeking a first humane glimpse of the situation without complex arguments or finger-shaking moralism, this is an agreeable choice.