When I buy a garment, what portion of the cost goes to the workers? Are 'clean clothes' more expensive than the alternative?

Brands are notoriously secretive about what percentage of their retail prices go to the worker, so there is very little we can say for sure. However, while labour costs vary, for most garments, wages for production will scarcely exceed 3% of the price you pay in the shop. This percentage could be drastically less for an item from a luxury fashion brand, since workers producing high end garments do not typically earn more than workers producing for high street brands.

Because this amount is so low, paying workers a wage they can actually live a decent life on should not be a costly affair.

Suppose a pair of trousers costs €100. Garment workers as a collective receive 3% of the price you will pay in the shop. In this case the amount is €3. In contrast, the brand profits will likely be around 10-15% for budget brands and a lot more for the more expensive ones, meaning that the brand would pocket about €15.

Now suppose the manufacturer prices the trousers at €103 with the sole aim of paying a higher wage to the workers producing them. The consumer pays 3% more, but workers earn double. Alternatively, the manufacturer could absorb the negligible increase and maintain a price of €100 for the consumer and have a €12 profit instead.

Paying higher wages therefore does not have to influence the price you pay as a customer.

For an example of what a price build-up of a fast fashion brand could look like, look at this calculation for a Zara hoodie.