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Can jeans change the world? If you believe Snyder, a Cambodia-based journalist, perhaps they already have. In Fugitive Denim, she navigates the labyrinthine world of trade with everyone's favorite casual-Friday attire as her vehicle, telling stories about cotton pickers in Azerbaijan, factory managers in China, fashion designers in New York, and, of course, Bono. The most compelling passages are about two Cambodian garment workers who allow Snyder an intimate look at their lives.

Frank and often funny, Fugitive Denim calculates the cost—environmental, political, human—of our designer duds. But this isn't a screed against globalization. Rather, it's a thoughtful, ultimately hopeful look at how our choices about something as mundane as jeans can alter the lives of people 10,000 miles away.

A version of this article appeared in the December 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.