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UPS Sponsors Fashion Innovation to Deliver Couture to Market
UPS Country Manager Harld Peters with students (l-r) Gijs Houdijk, Koen de Greef, Frits Stam

How do you keep chiffon shimmering, pleats well placed and crape un-crushed as high-fashion garments are shipped across the globe from the runways of Milan to the racks in the posh shops of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills? As both fashion designers and retailers know, shipping clothes presents a special challenge. Delicate fabrics can shift, fold, wrinkle and crease inside a box, and intricately constructed garments can lose their shape in transit. UPS looked to industrial design students at the University for Technology Eindhoven (TU/e) in the Netherlands to find a new way to ship haute couture garments sustainably and keep them pristine as they travel from plane to package car through the UPS network.

“We had been speaking about the need for a new, smaller and more sustainable packaging solution with some of our customers in the fashion industry,” said Harld Peters, country manager for UPS Benelux. “TU/e was the right partner for the job. We designed the challenge; they designed the solution.”

Fifteen teams proposed solutions ranging from a cylindrical package in which garments are rolled up to avoid wrinkling to stretching foil over the cloth to keep it from moving around. Four finalist teams were then chosen to present to a jury of experts from UPS and TU/e, as well as editors from fashion magazine Textilia. Each of the final prototypes was also rigorously evaluated at the UPS packaging test laboratory in Neuss, Germany, where they were dropped, thumped, and subjected to the other external conditions that can occur during transport.

Team Gijskoenfrits took home the grand prize: a trip to UPS’s Chicago Area Consolidation Hub and the UPS Package Design & Test Lab in Chicago, Illinois, as well as the possibility of having their concept serve as a basis for market implementation by UPS.

Team Gijskoenfrits Winning DesignGijokoenfrits’ solution was a framework of tubes around which hanging garments could be wrapped before sliding into a packing box. The design allows fashion retailers and wholesalers to ship multiple garments per box. The frames are also 100% reusable – meaning that they not only represent a sustainable shipping solution, they’re also perfect for use with UPS Returns service – extremely important when it comes to selling or ordering clothes online.

“Naturally we are very proud we won the competition with our packaging solution,” said Koen de Greef (who puts the Koen in the team name). “After our earlier visit to the UPS air hub in Cologne and our own research we realized that the logistics world is very dynamic and requires great efficiency. For instance, we realized that our concept needed to be adapted to limited storage spaces. Therefore, we implemented a smart folding mechanism to reduce the size of the frames in our prototypes.”

“This project was integrated in our curriculum and seamlessly matched the university’s focus on design and engineering,” said Henri in ‘t Groen, project manager at TU/e. “Also, the cooperation with UPS illustrates the international status of TU/e as a knowledge institute. We are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with UPS and look forward to any project that may follow in the future.”

To find out more about UPS’s engagement with the fashion world, visit UPS à la mode.

Category: Business Insights, Global Impact
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    Comments [2]

  1. Impressive, they really took the issue into consideration.

  2. That was cool really
    Thanks A lot!

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