Your small business may or may not be involved directly in the excitement of New York Fashion Week, but if you are in the fashion and apparel world in some capacity, you are no doubt sending individual, small packages to customers around the country, and even beyond our borders. The rise of e-commerce means that you have more customers in more places, and more shipping needs than ever before. So when you are packing up your fashion finery for transport, remember to treat them carefully.

According to Statista, $11.7 billion worth of fashion and apparel products were shipped within the U.S. in 2014, while U.S. exports of textiles and apparel that year reached $23.9 billion, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission.  So how can you ensure that your products reach their intended destinations in a timely way, and that the items are safe and undamaged? As the official logistics partner to Fashion Week events around the world, including Fashion Weeks in Paris, Milan, London, Tokyo and New York, below are DHL’s key tips to make sure your fashion/apparel goods are properly prepared, packaged and shipped.

Understand your products

Of course, the difference between a casual outfit and a couture dress is obvious, but what may be less clear is the way that each should prepared for shipping to your customers. For low-value clothing items, DHL recommends a specially designed Flyer Bag, which is created with specific tensile and seam strengths. Higher-value items should be specially packed and handled with additional protection. Dual-wall boxes can be used for these goods, and void spaces should be adequately filled so that items are stable during transit.

Here are some additional tips:

For non-fragile clothing

  • Wrap items individually with small-cell bubble wrap or paper before placing in a Flyer Bag.
  • Ensure the bag is properly sealed and the transport label is clearly visible.

For fragile clothing

  • Use small-cell bubble wrap inside a dual-wall box.
  • Ensure items have six centimeters of separation from the box wall (that’s approximately two-and-a-half inches).
  • Secure the flaps of the box.
  • Apply transit and FRAGILE contents labels so that they’re clearly visible.

Pay special attention to shoes

As most small retailers and e-tailers eventually discover, shoe boxes are not strong enough to adequately protect shoes during transit. The simple fact is that they need additional protection. There are two basic approaches, based on the value and weight of the shoes you are shipping:

For low-value, single packages under 3kg

  • DHL recommends using a Flyer Bag, which provides additional protection. An individual shoe box can be sealed in the bag, and the transit label applied so that it is clearly visible.

For high-value or multiple pieces over 3kg

  • Place shoe boxes in an outer box.
  • Fill any void space and secure flaps properly.
  • Apply the transit label so that it is clearly visible.

How are you making sure your fashion/apparel goods reach your customers safely? Let us know on Twitter at @DHLUS.