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Timmerman (Online discussion)

March 7, 2012

I am hoping to get a conversation going about Timmerman


Please provide three themes, three quotes, three questions and three thoughts about the book thus far.  And then give us a sense of what you are taking away from the book and what it is teaching us


Ends March 20

  1. Michael Anderson permalink

    One of the central themes throughout the book is that the garment industry is much more complex than it seems. This complexity often results into consumers obtaining a fake imagination to what goes on in the industry. Timmermans solution is for consumers to become more engaged in what they are buying instead of buying things without reason. He states, “There are a host of reasons that determine what we eat. The same should go for the consumption of clothing.” I think this is an interesting point he makes because so often we don’t have a reason for buying certain clothes other than it looks good. I would like to see what the clothing market would be like if consumers engaged in their products to create reasons for supporting them. Another theme in the book is the potentially harmful impact of boycotts on workers. Where do you draw the line between encouraging a more responsible industry and punishing workers by boycotting their products? Timmerman states, “Boycotting a country’s industry has resulted in negative consequences such as mass unemployment and even workers turning to sex trade.” This fact makes it tough to boycott, or punish, companies without doing the same to the workers. Going back to Timmermans thoughts on being an engaged customer, I think that being engaged and contacting the company about concerns may be the best way to create change rather than a boycott. Overall, the general theme of the book is about learning about where clothes come from and how workers live. With regards to workers pay at Levi factories, Timmerman says, “Levi’s workers at the San Antonio factory were getting paid $10 to $12 per hour before their jobs disappeared. Now, Levi’s doesn’t pay garment workers. They pay factories. And those factories barely pay their workers $12 per week.” This makes me wonder, with most clothing companies choosing to outsource, can a company keep up with the market without doing the same? I think this question, like many questions in the book, is tough to answer. How can companies put a stop to poor labor conditions while staying ahead of the market? Overall, what I can take away from this book is that consumers ultimately need to be more informed about the clothes they are buying. The solution to sweatshops and working conditions isn’t black and white, therefore it is important to know as much as you can in order to begin to make a difference in the industry.

    • Kyla Chappell permalink

      Michael, I think you did a great job of pinpointing the main themes throughout the book, as well as adding accompanying quotes to support them. I also feel it is important for people to gain more information about the clothes they are buying, like the conditions they are made in or even where. I believe if more people got involved in wanting more information about their clothes other than just the size, or the material it is made of and whether it will shrink or not with washing, or just how good it will look on themselves, they will be more engaged in buying clothes from companies that support sweatshop-free items of clothing. I believe in the end will benefit everyone, the maker, manufacturer and the consumer. I have now finished the book, and I pulled about the same central ideas from the book about working conditions, and it has definitely made me more conscious of where my clothes are from and whether I buy them or not. I also agree with you that the solution to sweatshops and the working conditions are not plain to see, but what many people need to realize is that the little things can help to make a big change.

  2. Where Am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make our Clothes, by Kelsey Timmerman focuses on the complexities of globalization, the garment industry, poverty- and my role in it as a consumer.

    “If a company is big enough that we know their name, they probably have human rights violations.” – – one of the speakers at the Sweatfree Conference in Minneapolis pg. 17

    “Child labor is an emotionally charged subject. It disgusts us and in natural anger, we want factories and host countries sanctioned. As much as this may seem just, it doesn’t solve the problem. MEC terminated business with the factory practicing child labor. It felt right. We’re no longer there. The child workers are. Is any one of us better off?
    -pg. 240

    “What makes Macy’s a favorite destination coast-to-coast? The answer lies in listening intently to consumers, applying our learnings to improve the way we do business, and remaining true to the positioning of each brand in the retail marketplace. Defining our brands-finding capitalization on our “lanes” within the very competitive retail industry- requires a deep understanding of our consumers, their values, and the role they want shopping to play in their lives.”
    pg. 240

    Question 1: What kind of change is possible?
    Question 2: Without the forces of globalization, how would the economics of these developing countries be affected?
    Question 3: How do we, as consumers go about change, and how will it affect us?

    After reading Timmerman’s book it leaves me wondering still, what I should do? I mean, I feel bad buying clothing from brands that support sweatshops, but at the same time, my money is also paying for a job for workers who may not otherwise be able to feed themselves. These workers are living in poverty with no others means of making it. If the demand is high, than so is the labor force. Which is providing them with jobs, so the only thing I can think to do is try and stand up against these companies. But in this bad economy are Americans willing to pay more, for less goods? How far are we willing to go to make a change? This is a very complex topic, in which Timmerman gets us all thinking. However, the more educated and aware we all become, the more likely we will be to create some sort of positive change. He has definitely got me thinking not only about the clothes I’m wearing but the food I eat and the car I’m driving.

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