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Where am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make Our Clothes Hardcover – November 24, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0470376546 ISBN-10: 0470376546 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 2 edition (November 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470376546
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470376546
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Journalist Timmerman travels the globe in search of the factories that manufactured his clothing. Tracking a T-shirt, underwear, jeans, and flip-flops leads him from Honduras to Bangladesh to Cambodia and China. It is not surprising that he encounters heart-wrenching poverty or gains an eye-opening view of how much the average piece of American apparel is marked up. What is unexpected is the revelation of just how much harm is done to workers when overseas manufacturers are boycotted. Timmerman’s interviews with numerous factory workers make it clear that taking away their jobs is akin to creating a poverty tsunami. Yet, as Timmerman confesses, “There isn’t a single worker who makes my clothes who lives a life that I would find acceptable.” Like most of us, he wants a simple solution to the problem, rather than be faced with the paralyzing morass that is global poverty, and so he suggests some costly, if important solutions. The injustices of the global clothing industry must be more thoroughly researched and addressed. Timmerman’s heartfelt, if somewhat disjointed, chronicle is a good beginning. --Colleen Mondor

Review

"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)

More About the Author

I'm the author of "Where am I Wearing?" and a freelance writer who focuses on globalization, travel, the outdoors, adventure, and what it means to be a Touron (moron + tourist) in worlds of clashing cultures.

I've spent the night in Castle Dracula in Romania, gone undercover as an underwear buyer in Bangladesh, played PlayStation in Kosovo, taught an island village to play baseball in Honduras, and, in another life, I worked as a SCUBA instructor in Key West, Florida.

I was made in America.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 30 customer reviews
This book was written very well with a bit of humor.
Linda Kirk
Back in the US he visits a garment factory that made his oldest and still wearable shorts.
Luanne Ollivier
I was worried that the class would be to much, so I read the book first.
Barbara D Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By NoBooksNoLife on November 15, 2008
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.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Corrian on April 22, 2009
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.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tim Bete on November 15, 2008
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."
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kick Serge on May 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book describes Timmerman's mostly fruitless attempts to locate garment factories and meet factory workers, and his regrets after botching interviews or making gaffes. There are also filler passages, such as a chapter on China's Three Gorges Dam and reminiscences from Timmerman's childhood and college years.

Analysis of his visit to a Honduran garment factory takes up thousands of words in the book, but in fact he just talked to one worker outside the factory gates for a few minutes. No insights are gained from this encounter, though Timmerman lists the questions he would have liked to ask the worker, but didn't. After each encounter with factory workers, Timmerman lists the questions he regrets not asking, a bizarre and useless style of reporting. Other times Timmerman asks the wrong questions.

In Bangladesh he asks a 30-something woman if she has met Ghandi (who died in 1948.) He asks a group of young garment workers who live in a communal room who owns their spatula.

At a garbage dump in Cambodia Timmerman is shocked to learn that there are people who subsist by scavenging recylables (ever been to a city in the U.S.?) and says that "it is difficult to distinguish the people from the trash."

Saddened that there are barefoot children working as trash pickers, Timmerman gets the children to toss his frisbee. It turns out the dump is a dangerous place to play barefoot frisbee--one of the children cuts his foot.

At other points in the book Timmerman takes a group of street children to an amusement park and buys them pizza (which he is surprised to learn they hate), and takes a group of garment workers bowling (which he is surprised they hate).
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Moneysaver3 on November 14, 2008
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.
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