The last factory that Timmerman visited was in America. The garment manufacturing industry in America has rapidly declined over time. Now factories are much smaller and focus on specialized garments. The workers here in America enjoy fair pay and their working conditions are comfortable.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. With outsourcing and globalization becoming increasingly popular and a growing number of our products being made in foreign countries, it is important for us as consumers to be aware of the places and people that are making our clothing. As a fashion student, I feel that I am in a unique position to make major changes in the world, helping human right and the perception of the fashion industry. As consumers is it important that we use our pocketbook power wisely.
Cambodia was the next poverty stricken nation that Timmerman visited. After a communist insurgency, NGOs and humanitarians flooded the country and replaced communist farms with garment factories. Now many garments, which are shipped all over the world, are made in Cambodia.
Most of the people that work in these factories are young women, sent away from their homes to work and send back money to support their large families. Although conditions are not ideal, NGOs and humanitarians are working to protect workers’ rights. The International Labor Organization is working hard in Cambodia to help protect workers, big brand images, and consumers’ conscience.
Timmerman explains that with companies looking to create garments as inexpensively as possible, many are outsourcing to China. China has better developed roads and transportation systems than most developing nations and a huge supply of cheap labor, making it very attractive to companies looking to manufacture goods at the lowest possible price. However, in China, workers have no labor rights and NGOs are not allowed in the country.
Workers work an incredible amount of hours every week and are rarely compensated fairly. One of the factory workers that Timmerman spoke with explained that many times workers are told to clock out and then come back to work- if they refuse they loose their job and their livelihood. As in the previous cases, workers send their earnings back to their families far away in the villages. Much of the Chinese population has been lifted out of poverty in this way, but they still do not enjoy the rights that many often take for granted.
So I thought that I would sometimes write about books that I read or am reading. Here is one of my favorites. I'm going to break it into sections so its not too horribly long to read.
Where Am I Wearing by Kelsey Timmerman deals with globalization in the garment industry. In the book, Timmerman chronicles his travels to the countries in which a handful of his favorite garments were made, to speak with factory workers and view life from a different perspective.
The first country that Timmerman wrote about was Bangladesh. There, two million people live as garment workers. The cheap labor available in the country is fueling the growing economy. The inflow of money to these garment industries from foreign investments is helping to stabilize the economy in Bangladesh. Most of the workers in the garment industry are woman and children. These workers are a key factor in lifting the country out of poverty. While in America it is not common for children to go to work, in Bangladesh it is.
Unfortunately, working in the garment factories is one of the safest jobs that an uneducated person can attain. If not in a garment factory, children would most likely work at a much more dangerous job or beg on the streets. Working in factories allows children to send money back to their families in villages to help them survive. Timmerman emphasizes the culture of poverty in Bangladesh, which is unknown to many in America