SleuthSayers: The $3500 Shirt – A History Lesson in Economics

Everyone complains about taxes, prices, and how expensive it is to live any more. I’m not going to go into taxes – that way lies madness. But I can tell you that living has never been cheaper. We live in a country awash in stuff – food, clothing, appliances, machines, cheap crap from China … compared to a world where everything is made by hand – we’re talking barely 200 years ago – everything is cheap and plentiful, and we are appallingly ungrateful.

Let’s talk clothing. When the Industrial Revolution began, it started with factories making cloth. Why? Because clothing used to be frighteningly expensive. Back in my teaching days I gave a standard lecture, which is about to follow, on the $3,500 shirt, or why peasants owned so little clothing.

7 hours for sewing, 72 for weaving, 500 for spinning, or 579 hours total to make one shirt.

Source: SleuthSayers: The $3500 Shirt – A History Lesson in Economics by Eve Fisher