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HQ 086690

July 23, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 086690 HP


TARIFF NO.: 6204.29.2015; 6204.29.2040

Mr. Robert T. Stack
Siegel, Mandell & Davidson, P.C.
One Whitehall Street
New York, NY 10004

RE: HRL 086009 modified. Suit-type jacket must have four or more panels. Ensemble; skirt; blouse; composite; handkerchief; accessory; decorative; dress

Dear Mr. Stack:

This is in reference to HRL 086009 of February 7, 1990, which classified a women's suit under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Please reference your client Liz Claiborne, Inc.


The merchandise at issue consists of a women's garment, consisting of a top and skirt, Style 102306. Each piece is composed of 95% rayon and 5% silk woven fabric, and a 100% polyester lining, and is imported from Taiwan.

The red top is fully lined, the outer shell of which consists of three panels (two of which are on the front), has a full front opening secured by one large button and three small buttons hidden by a placket, short hemmed sleeves, a lapel collar, and, when imported, a functional breast pocket. A black and white striped handkerchief, approximately 7" square, is pinned on the breast pocket.

The skirt is straight, and features a waistband and a back zipper. Both pieces feature inside labels with the logo Liz Claiborne DRESSES.

In HRL 086009 DRR, we classified these garments under heading 6204.19.2000, HTSUSA, as a women's suit. We also ruled that the handkerchief and the suit were composite goods.


Whether classification of the instant merchandise as a suit was incorrect, and whether the composite good position was also incorrect?


Subheading 6204.19, HTSUSA, provides for women's suits. The General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) to the HTSUSA govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states, in pertinent part:

... classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes ...

Goods which cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 are to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRIs, taken in order.

Note 3 to Chapter 62, HTSUSA, provides, in pertinent part:

(a) The term "suit" means a set of garments composed of two or three pieces made up in identical fabric and comprising:

- one garment designed to cover the lower part of the body and consisting of ... a skirt ..., and

- one suit coat or jacket the outer shell of which, exclusive of sleeves, consists of four or more panels, designed to cover
the upper part of the body.... [Emphasis added.]

Since the instant top consists of only three panels, the garment as a whole cannot, by definition, be considered a suit. In this respect, HRL 086009 is revoked.

Heading 6204.33, HTSUSA, provides for women's suit- type jackets. In determining the applicability of this heading, we note that the Customs Service periodically issues Guidelines for the Reporting of Imported Products in Various Textile and Apparel Categories. The Guidelines, most recently published at 53 Fed. Reg. 52563 (Dec. 28, 1988), CIE 13/88 (Nov. 23, 1988), note that since certain types of garments are closely related in use, the Guidelines "are to be used as an aid in determining the commercial designation and, hence, the classification of an article." Used as such, they "represent the present position of the Customs Service."

The Guidelines, at 5, include as other coats women's and girls' suit-type jackets garments whose
outer shells consist of three or more panels (of which 2 are at the front) sewn together lengthwise.

C) Shirt-jackets have full or partial front openings and sleeves, and at least cover the upper body from the neck area to the waist. They may be [a coat] if designed to be worn over another garment (other than underwear).
The following criteria may be used in determining whether a shirt-jacket is designed for use over another garment...:

2) A full or partial lining.

7) Large jacket/coat style buttons, toggles or snaps....

8) Lapels.

Garments having features of both jackets and shirts will be categorized as coats if they possess at least three of the above listed features and if the result is not unreasonable. Many such garments will function as the upper part of leisure suits and will be placed in the categories for "suit-type coats." * * * Garments not possessing at least three of the listed features will be considered on an individual basis.

Based upon a thorough examination of the garment, classification of the top as a suit-type jacket would be injudicious. The one large coat-style button, while functional, exists primarily for decoration; the three smaller buttons, hidden from view, are used for
closure. In addition, the close fitting of this garment would cause discomfort to the wearer when combined with another garment (other than underwear). It is our opinion, therefore, that this classification would be unreasonable, and classification as a blouse is appropriate.

In HRL 086009, we held that the top and the handkerchief constituted composite goods under GRI 3(b). GRI 3 states, in pertinent part:

When by application of Rule 2(b) [goods of more than one material or substance] or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(b) [C]omposite goods ... made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a)
[which requires that goods be classified, if possible, under the more specific of the competing provisions], shall be classified as if they consisted of ... the component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the HTSUSA constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. While not legally binding, they do represent the considered views of classification experts of the Harmonized System Committee. It has therefore been the practice of the Customs Service to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the Explanatory Notes when interpreting the HTSUSA.

EN (IX) to GRI 3 provides:

For the purposes of [GRI 3(b)], composite goods made up of different components shall be taken to mean not only those in which the components are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole but also
those with separable components, provided these components are adapted to one another and are mutually complementary and that together they form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts.

[C]lassification [of sets and of composite goods] is made according to the component, or components taken together, which can be regarded as conferring on the set as a whole its essential character.

Although no rationale was furnished, our previous determination was correct. The components are clearly adapted to each other (the handkerchief fits neatly in the breast pocket), are mutually complementary (contrasting colors provide a distinctive fashion statement characteristic of "high end" garments), and form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts (the small square handkerchief {7 " 7«"} is constructed of a translucent silk-like material which would not be sold as a functional handkerchief, and contrasting effects of this type are normally not sold unaccompanied by their garments).

Subheading 6204.23, HTSUSA, provides for women's ensembles. Note 3(b) to Chapter 62 defines ensembles as
a set of garments ... composed of several pieces made up in identical fabric, put up for retail sale....

All components of an ensemble must be of the same fabric construction, style, color and composition....

The question was raised as to whether the addition of the handkerchief to the breast pocket of the blouse would preclude such a classification. In HRL 086009, we stated:

... the handkerchief is not permanently attached to the [blouse], it is only pinned on and therefore, serves as a decorative accessory item. The
[blouse] and skirt are of the same fabric construction, style, color and composition and therefore meet the requirements of [an ensemble] as set forth in Note 3.

This language is correct, and the blouse and skirt are considered an ensemble.


As a result of the foregoing, the instant merchandise is classified as follows:

Blouse & Handkerchief
under subheading 6204.29.2040, HTSUSA, textile category 641, as women's or girls' suits, ensembles, suit-type jackets, blazers, dresses, skirts, divided skirts, trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts (other than swimwear), ensembles, of other textile materials, of artificial fibers, blouses and shirts, other. The applicable rate of duty, per subheading 6206.40.3030, is 28.6 percent ad valorem.

under subheading 6204.29.2015, HTSUSA, textile category 642, as women's or girls' suits, ensembles, suit-type jackets, blazers, dresses, skirts, divided skirts, trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts (other than swimwear), ensembles, of other textile materials, of artificial fibers, skirts and divided skirts. The applicable rate of duty, per subheading 6204.59.3010, is 17 percent ad valorem.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent negotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report On Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is updated weekly and is available at your local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.

This notice to you should be considered a modification of HRL 086009 of February 7, 1990, as to the merchandise described as a women's suit, under 19 C.F.R. 177.9(d)(1) (1989). It is not to be applied retroactively to HRL 086009 (19 C.F.R. 177.9(d)(2) (1989)) and will not, therefore, affect the transaction for the importation of your merchandise under that ruling. However, for the purposes of future transactions in merchandise of this type, HRL 086009 will not be valid precedent. We recognize that pending
transactions may be adversely affected by this modification, in that current contracts for importations arriving at a port subsequent to the release of HRL 086690 will be classified under the new ruling. If such a situation arises, you may, at your discretion, notify this office and apply for relief from the binding effects of the new ruling as may be dictated by the circumstances.



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