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HQ 082624

March 22, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 082624 SM 829859


TARIFF NO.: 6204.42.3030; 6204.42.3050; 6208.21.0020

Stephen M. Zelman, Esq.
Siegel, Mandell & Davidson, P.C.
One Whitehall Street
New York, NY 10004

RE: Request for reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter 829859 of June 28, 1988

Dear Mr. Zelman:

Your letter of July 27, 1988, on behalf of Michele of Miami, Inc., requests reconsideration of NYRL 829859, in which four styles of women's woven cotton garments were determined to be classifiable as dresses under heading 6204, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). In the original ruling request three of the styles were claimed to be nightdresses and one, Style 1700, was claimed to be a dressing gown. No support was provided for the claimed clas- sifications. You claim that two of the styles, 1704 and 1709, are classifiable as women's nightdresses and two, styles 1700 and 1703, as women's dressing gowns, both under heading 6208, HTSUSA.


Samples of the four styles were submitted. They are described in detail in the New York letter. You state that the decisions in Mast Industries v. United States, 9 CIT 549 (1985), aff'd, 786 F. 2d 1144 (Fed Cir. 1986), and St. Eve International v. United States, Slip Op. 87-37 (Ct. Int'l Trade, decided March 31, 1987), require classification of Styles 1704 and 1709 as nightdresses, and that Styles 1700 and 1703 are clearly dressing gowns. You state that Michele of Miami is an established resource for nightwear and loungewear products, and that it sells only to sleepwear and loungewear departments of stores. You also state that it sells only to nightwear/robe buyers.

You believe that various features of Styles 1704 and 1709 characterize them as nightwear: ankle length, light- weight fabric, tucking, gathering, embroidery, scalloping,
loose fit, small-medium-large-sizing, and lack of side pockets. You enclose copies of the importer's sales litera- ture showing these two styles as sleepwear and copies of purchase orders describing them as nightgowns.

You state that the original binding ruling request indi- cated that Style 1703 was a nightdress, but that it is in fact a robe even though it lacks a front opening, which is not a strict requirement for robes under the Textile Category Guidelines. Further, it comes in only one size and lacks pockets. You state that both this style and Style 1700 are long, loose, and sleeved, features characteristic of robes. You state that the NIS apparently believed that these are "granny dresses," but that since such articles are obsolete in the fashion industry, the two styles are clearly robes. You enclose a copy of a catalog page that purports to show Style 1700 merchandised as coordinating with a nightshirt style.


Were the samples properly classified as dresses, or should they be classified as nightdresses and dressing gowns?


Classification under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section and chapter notes.

Heading 6208, HTSUSA, provides, both by its terms and as set out in the Explanatory Notes, the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level, for two groups of articles. One is certain women's underclothing. The other includes, by name, nightdresses, pajamas, negligees, bath- robes, dressing gowns, and similar articles for women and girls. The Explanatory Notes state that garments of the latter group are usually worn indoors.

To assist in the classification of both nightdresses and robes, Customs looks to the Textile Category Guidelines, C.I.E. 13/88. With regard to nightdresses, these Guidelines, revised in accordance with the HTSUSA, reflect the many past Customs Service decisions to classify as pajamas and other nightwear those garments worn to bed for sleeping. T.D. 87- 118, which limited the St. Eve decision to the merchandise before the court, reiterated Customs' position that nightwear
is sleepwear, and that garments advertised and sold as dresses, shirts, trousers, beachrobes, or other nonsleep articles are not classifiable as nightwear. This position is consistent with the judgment in Mast Industries, that night- clothes are garments to be worn to bed, and that the garment in question, found to be designed, manufactured, marketed, and used as nightwear, was so classifiable. We find no inconsistency in considering these same factors in classi- fying pajamas, nightdresses, and similar garments under the HTSUSA.

Many garments are clearly nightwear; they generally do not come before Customs for rulings because there is no doubt as to their tariff classification. Difficulties arise when garments claimed to be nightwear resemble dresses, shirts, trousers, or other garments intended to be worn not in the privacy of the bedroom but for public view. The more closely an importer's merchandise resembles these outerwear garments in color, style, and fabric, the more difficulty he will have, obviously, in establishing for Customs officials that that merchandise is sleepwear.

The difficulty, moreover, is not merely that the styles themselves are ambiguous; the environment of sale is equally so. Examination of the trade press indicates that sleepwear/ intimate apparel departments of stores have sought to increase sales by offering a variety of clothes in addition to sleep- wear and underwear. Visits to the stores themselves reveal that this is indeed the case. Thus, an importer's claim that his merchandise is sold in a sleepwear department cannot be conclusive of its classification. In many cases, garments sold in these departments are indistinguishable from those sold elsewhere.

In determining whether a particular garment is to be worn to bed for sleeping, Customs will consider the sample it- self and whatever information the importer can supply about how the garment is to be marketed and sold. We must also con- sider how the same or virtually the same article is advertised and sold by others. In some cases we receive samples of the same merchandise from different importers requesting different classifications. With regard to documentation in support of a claimed classification, letters of credit, purchase orders, contracts, confirmations, and other documentation incidental to the purchase of the merchandise cannot be regarded as con- clusive. These documents can be self-serving and do not necessarily reflect how merchandise is advertised in the U.S. market.

When goods are not clearly sleepwear, evidence of marketing in the United States as sleepwear is a factor in classification. Our conclusion, based on the information submitted, is that Styles 1704 and 1709 are properly classi- fied as nightdresses. Similar styles have been so classi- fied, e.g., in file 081469 of April 25, 1988.

With regard to robes and dressing gowns, the Textile Category Guidelines indicate that garments are included that are worn in the home for comfort and that are inappropriate for wear on social occasions inside and outside the home. Garments worn as street attire are excluded.

We do not agree that Styles 1700 and 1703 are classifi- able as dressing gowns or robes as claimed. While Michele of Miami as a sleepwear/loungewear resource, the term "lounge- wear" is not coextensive with "robes and dressing gowns" as you suggest. "Loungewear" now includes a variety of loose, comfortable casual clothes that can be worn in a variety of settings. Thus the fact that a garment is sold by a lounge- wear company or in a loungewear department is not conclusive as to its classification as a dressing gown.

The fact that a garment lacks pockets does not make it unsuitable as a dress; further, Style 1703 in fact has pockets. Neither ankle length nor loose fit nor singular sizing is characteristic only of dressing gowns, most of which do have some type of front opening. The submitted catalog page showing this style and Style 1700 does not characterize them as dressing gowns, or in fact as anything. They have the appearance of casual dresses, and no particular evidence sub- mitted establishes that they are indeed dressing gowns and were incorrectly classified.


Styles 1704 and 1709 are classified under subheading 6208.21.0020, HTSUSA, textile category 351, a provision for women's other cotton nightdresses.

Styles 1700 and 1703 were properly classified in NYRL 829859 as dresses under subheadings 6204.42.3050 and 6204. 42.3030, HTSUSA, textile category 336, respectively.

NYRL 829859 is modified accordingly.

Because of the changeable nature of the statistical annotation, i.e., the ninth and tenth digits of the tariff number, and the textile restraint categories, you should contact your local Customs office before importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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