"Guess where my undwear was made?" is the new "What's your sign?"

When you write a book about following the tags on your clothes around the world you get a lot of questions.  The most common is “Why?” which acts as a constant reminder that there is a fine line between first-time author and crazy.

At a book reading a woman asked me to check the tag on her bra.  In case there are some fellas that think this might’ve been a good thing, it was not.

People continually ask me where I am wearing.  I normally know.  I’ve pretty much committed to memory the countries of origin of every item in my wardrobe.

I also get “Guess where my shirt was made,” as if I were a carny that guessed things about people including their age, weight, and country of origin of their capris. The thing is, I’m getting pretty good at the country of origin guessing.  I prefer to stay away from age and weight; those are dangerous waters, just one step better than running a “pregnant or not pregnant booth” where you guess if there is life or Oreos in a woman’s belly.

In case you find yourself confronted with the “guess where I am wearing” request, I thought I would share some of my secrets with you.

Shoes are easy.  Always guess China. You’ll get it it right at least 80% of the time.

When I have to guess the origin of a T-shirt, I always guess Honduras.  About 2 million new shirts hit the shelves per year in the U.S. and 20% of them come from Honduras.  If you’ve given a second chance go for Mexico.  (Here’s a graphic representing where we import our T-shirts from).

If something is knit go with India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh.  I don’t have any numbers to back this up, but it works pretty good.

If someone asks you to guess where their underwear was made, they are trying to pick you up and they could probably care less what you answer.  Run or enjoy it.

I’m still working on my methodology, but I’m honing my skills.  Actually, I could use some help. Tell me where you are wearing in this comment thread and/or participate each Wednesday on Twitter.  I’m starting a new hash tag – #whereamiwearing.

So, today I’m wearing: T-shirt = Honduras / collared shirt = Thailand / jeans = Turkey / boxers = Nicaragua / flipflops = china #whereamiwearing.

How about you?

Melissa says:

Oh, I’ll play! Shirt=El Salvador, shorts=Philippines, underwear=India , shoes=China

Val says:

Maybe you could create a ‘box’ that would sit on the FB sidebar, making it easy to enter our ‘Where are you wearing’ of the day, to bolster awareness? Just a thought…

Kent says:

It’s hot here in Lyon today, so I’m wearing baggy, cotton/linen blend shorts made in China. A wife-beater and boxers from a Irish/UK low cost retailer called Primark. I scruntinzed the tags and there is no mention of where they’re made.

So, like Kelsey taught us, I checked the website (www.primark.co.uk) to find that they have an in depth section on Ethical Trading. They list all kinds of info on Targets, Values, and Auditing, but I still have no idea where my boxers were made.

Perhaps “made in” lables are not required by UK law.

Any insight Kels? A blog post next week maybe?

Kelsey says:

Kent, From my understanding Primark is the UK’s WalMart. Cheap comes with a cost. The BBC actually ran a series where a few young people from England visited some garment factories in India. From what I’ve seen of the show, it’s a bit skewed. The industry really isn’t put in context, bu the access at the factories is pretty cool. Some of the Brits try their hands at sewing.

Here’s the link to the show: http://www.bbc.co.uk/thread/blood-sweat-tshirts/

According to this piece (http://eccustoms.blogspot.com/2007/02/country-of-origin-marking.html) the EU doesn’t required country of origin labels. Wow! I never knew that. For once, we’re ahead of Europe on something related to worker’s rights. Eat it EU!

Kent says:

I thought it must be something like that. Because I always checked the labels now, and I’ve noticed that very few garments are labeled. The EU is lagging…Who’da thought!

Thanks for the link… I’ll check it out.

Let your voice be heard!