The Philippines isn’t exactly the best place to shop for menswear. Most of the brands here are either fast fashion or high luxury. Prices are also high due to the duties levied on imported goods and the cost of operating a brick-and-mortar shop. When you have an environment such as this it makes sense to buy online due to the wider selection and generally lower prices. However, logistics and import duties can be tricky depending on who you buy from and the method of shipping. Over the years I’ve learned some techniques to minimize the amount I pay for shipping and duties.

1. Research before buying. It’s hard to return an item half-way around the world if you got the wrong size or the item wasn’t as expected. Minimize the likelihood of this happening by reading forums and blogs. Ask the manufacturer or retailer. If you’re traveling visit shops and try on stuff just so you know your size even if you’re not buying.

2. Buy from small, multi-brand retailers. They are very flexible when it comes to requests such as marking items as a sample/gift and undervaluing — both of which minimize the amount of duties you will pay. They are also more likely to give you a discount on shipping.

3. Ship through Johnny Air Cargo if you are buying from a continental U.S.-based retailer. Have it delivered to one of their addresses in the U.S. and they take care of shipping your items to the Philippines within five working days. Door-to-door delivery is optional. They can seem quite expensive but it’s a small price to pay for a quick delivery.

4. Ask the retailer to use the smallest box possible to avoid being charged based on volume. Logistics companies use either weight or volume, whichever is larger, to compute how much they will charge you. If the box is large even though the item is small/light, you will be charged based on the size of the box.

5. Avail of free shipping. Large retailers offer this as a standard but some will charge separately. Watch out when free shipping is offered as a promotion. It also helps to plan your purchases in advance as shops offer free shipping when a minimum amount is reached.