I am not sure I have ever seen a better parable about the virtues of industrialization, world trade, and the division of labor than this experiment documented in Wired Magazine (via L. Rockwell at Mises):
When educator and designer Kelly Cobb decided to make a man's suit
only from materials produced within 100 miles of her home, she knew it
would be a challenge. But Cobb's locally made suit turned into a
exhausting task. The suit took a team of 20 artisans several months to
produce -- 500 man-hours of work in total -- and the finished product
wears its rustic origins on its sleeve.
"It was a huge undertaking, assembled on half a shoestring," Cobb
said at the suit's unveiling one recent afternoon at Philadelphia's Institute of Contemporary Art.
"Every piece of the suit took three to five pairs of hands to make,"
Cobb added. "Every garment you wear took three to five pairs of hands
to make too, but you don't know whose hands or where."
Cobb's suit (see photo gallery)
is a demonstration of the massive manufacturing power of the global
economy. Industrial processes and cheap foreign labor belie the
tremendous resources that go into garments as simple as a T-shirt.
"It definitely makes you think for a minute before you buy that $10
skirt," said Jocelyn Meinhardt, a New York City playwright who sews
many of her own clothes. "It didn't just grow on the rack at Forever
21. It's too easy to forget that people made it."