Retrotech: Making a Tunic, 1700 Years Ago

The tunic was found in the Norwegian mountains.  Textile historians recreated it using the technologies current when it was made–pulling the wool naturally rather than shearing, spinning it into thread (with no spinning wheel), and weaving it into cloth. The labor required was estimated by having skilled people do a sample amount of each task required and extrapolating to the complete garment.

Total labor requirement was 780 hours.  The linked post estimates the cost at almost $38000, apparently assuming Norwegian labor rates.

I don’t think anyone would produce such garments using such expensive labor, though (unless it was for some very affluent niche market) but would use cheaper Asian or South American or even American labor.  Maybe a reasonable number including overhead and supervision would be something like $5/hour. Which still gives a cost of $3800.

And if someone made it for their own use, or that of someone in their family, that 780 hours would represent a pretty large piece of their work capacity for the entire year.

As Paul Graham noted, clothing was very expensive right up to the Industrial Revolution.