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HQ 087034

July 31, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 087034 HP


TARIFF NO.: 6211.43.0090

Mr. Robert Sokoloff
Bloomers of California Inc.
8954 Lurline Avenue
Chatsworth, CA 91311

RE: NYRL 849400 modified. Camisole-type garments are not blouses merely because of defined neckline or lack of spaghetti type shoulder straps. Underwear; outerwear; textile; guidelines

Dear Mr. Sokoloff:

This is in reply to your letter of April 4, 1990, requesting reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter 849400 of February 20, 1990.


The merchandise at issue consists of two styles of women's 100% polyester satin woven camisoles, produced in Hong Kong. Style 7400 is a blue tank-styled pullover garment, featuring a front and rear V-shaped neckline, rounded tailed bottom, 1 " wide shoulder straps, and narrow self-fabric capping finishing the neckline, armholes, and bottom edge. Style 7489 is a white tank-styled pullover garment, featuring a front and rear U-shaped neckline, straight hemmed bottom, 1 " wide shoulder straps, and narrow self-fabric capping finishing the neckline and armholes. Neither garment is sheer.

In NYRL 849400, Style 7400 was classified under subheading 6206.40.3030, HTSUSA, as a women's blouse. Style 7489 was not previously classified.


Whether the garments are outerwear or underwear under the HTSUSA?


Heading 6208, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, women's undershirts and similar garments. The Customs Service periodically issues the 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 25, provide:

Category designation: Underwear

The term "underwear" refers to garments which are ordinarily worn under other garments and are not exposed to view when the wearer is conventionally dressed for appearance in public, indoors or out-of-doors. Whether or not a garment is worn next to the body of the wearer is not a determinant;

The garments are heavy enough so as to preclude any transparency when worn against the skin. Advertisements and fashion articles submitted with this request clearly demonstrate that this type of garment is no longer just intimate apparel, but has become an alternative to blouses and work as under-the-suit complements. It is our opinion that the instant garments cannot be classified as underwear by means of the above guidelines.

Heading 6206, HTSUSA, provides for blouses. 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.

The EN to heading 6206 states:

This heading covers the group of women's or girls' clothing, not knitted or crocheted, which comprises blouses, shirts and shirt-blouses.

Furthermore, the heading does not include:

(a) Singlets [(athletic-type undershirts)] or other vests
(heading 62.08).

The General EN to Chapter 62, HTSUSA, defines shirts and shirt-blouses as:

... designed to cover the upper part of the body, having long or short sleeves and a full or partial opening starting at the neckline.
Blouses are also designed to cover the upper part of the body but may be sleeveless and without an opening at the neckline.

The Guidelines, supra, at 25, provide:

Blouses are outer garments usually extending from the neck or shoulders to the vicinity of the waistline. *** Blouses may have a collar treatment or no collar. ***
[T]he garment may even be without closure as in a pullover.

Outerwear garments known as camisoles, bandeaus and similar garments which may be described as tops, are excluded from this category.

It has been suggested that the instant merchandise cannot be considered "camisoles," and should be classified as blouses, since the shoulder straps are not spaghetti-type straps and the garments have clearly defined necklines. We do not agree. Throughout the advertising materials submitted with this request, many garments with 1" - 2" shoulder
straps are called camisoles. Cf. HRL 086977 of June 19, 1990 (classifying garment with ¬" straps as camisole). Some of these garments also have V- or U- shaped necklines. See also HRL 085979 of March 8, 1990 (classifying garment with deep front V-neckline as camisole). Although it may be argued that the term camisole is used indiscriminately throughout the industry, the definition of a classification term is a question of law which we are free to determine for ourselves by resort to lexicographic and other materials. Simod America Corp. v. United States, Slip. Op. 88-1637 (Fed. Cir. 1989), citing Convertors Div. of Am. Hosp. Supply Corp. v. United States, 861 F.2d 710, 712 (Fed. Cir. 1988). Tariff terms are construed according to their common and commercial meanings which are presumed to be correct. Nippon Kogaku (USA), Inc. v. United States, 673 F.2d 380, 382 (CCPA 1982). In Pickens, The Fashion Dictionary, camisoles are generally described with straps, and not limited to spaghetti-type straps. This, in addition to the garments' extremely limited shoulder coverage, causes us to disqualify these garments as blouses, and allow classification as camisole-type outerwear.


As a result of the foregoing, the instant merchandise is classified under subheading 6211.43.0090, HTSUSA, textile category 659, as track suits, ski-suits and swimwear, other garments, other garments, women's or girls', of man-made fibers, other. The applicable rate of duty 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 NYRL 849400 of February 20, 1990, as to the merchandise described as Style 7400, under 19 C.F.R. 177.9(d)(1) (1989). It is not to be applied retroactively to NYRL 849400 (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, NYRL 849400 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 087034 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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