9 Things You Should Know About the People and Places That Make Our Clothes

Image credit: 

by Kelsey Timmerman, author of Where Am I Wearing?

In the past I didn't give much thought to where my clothes were made or who made them. But after riding a roller coaster with garment workers, bowling with them, meeting their families, and sharing bowls of rice prepared over gas stoves during power outages, I can't help but care. But let's back it up a bit.

On my global quest to answer the question "Where Am I Wearing?" I picked my favorite items out of my wardrobe and traced them back to where they were assembled. I went to Bangladesh to visit the factory where my underwear was made, Honduras for my favorite T-shirt (it's got a pic of Tattoo from Fantasy Island), Cambodia for my all-American blue jeans, and China for my flip-flops.

Over the next few days I'll be sharing some of my experiences. But first, let's get some basics out of the way"¦

1. 97% of our clothes are made abroad.

2. Eighty-five people have a hand in making a single pair of our blue jeans.

3. The garment industry accounts for 75% of Bangladesh's and Cambodia's exports.

4. Those frayed edges and holes in your pants that give them that cool worn look are the result of a twenty-something girl sitting all day at a powered grinding stone.

5. The average garment worker in Cambodia earns $50/month and supports seven people.

6. Garment workers don't like bowling. (More about that later this week.)

7. Over half of the world's footwear is made in China "“ eight billion pairs.

8. One-third of American consumers are willing to pay more for clothes produced under good working conditions.

9. You only get one honeymoon. Don't take your new bride to a garment factory on yours. Trust me.

Learn more about Kelsey at whereamiwearing.com. You can pick up his fascinating new book from Amazon.com. A PDF of the first chapter is available here.

December 8, 2008 - 4:30am
webby
submit to reddit