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HQ 086138

February 15, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 086138 HP


Ms. Linda Stohr
Best Customs Service
P.O. Box 92815
Los Angeles, CA 90009-2815

RE: Multiple pairs of laces of differing colors or designs, imported with athletic shoes, raises presumption that multiple pairs of laces are intended for simultaneous use. The shoes plus all pairs of laces is a single article, or, where these laces are not in eyelets, unassembled under GRI 2(a). composite;set;GRI 3;GRI 1

Dear Ms. Stohr:

This is in reply to your letter of October 20, 1989, concerning the tariff classification of shoe laces imported with athletic shoes, produced in Korea, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Please reference your client SsangYong USA, Inc.


The merchandise at issue consists of two pairs of shoe laces either laced into the shoes, or in the individual box, of differ- ing colors. The principal use of the footwear will be as basket- ball shoes, training shoes, and running shoes. Classification of the shoes themselves is not being addressed.


Whether multiple pairs of shoe laces inserted into the eyelets of a single pair of athletic-type shoes constitute a set with those athletic-type shoes, for classification purposes under the HTSUSA?


Chapter 64, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, athletic-type shoes. Heading 6307, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, shoe laces of textile materials. No individual provision exists
specifically covering athletic-type shoes with their laces. 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 ac- cording to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, pro- vided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the following provisions [taken in order]:

2. (a) Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article [either] incomplete or unfinished, ... [or] complete or finished (or falling
[sic.] to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this rule), entered unassembled or dis- assembled. [Emphasis added.]

3. 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 possi- ble, 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.

It is well accepted under Customs law that when one pair of shoes requiring laces is imported without its laces, that pair of shoes is treated as an incomplete or unfinished pair of shoes under GRI 2(a), supra. It follows, therefore, that when a pair of shoes is imported with its corresponding pair of laces the merchandise is considered a complete article (i.e., an incomplete pair of shoes completed), rather than a composite good under GRI 3.

It is our opinion that where one pair of shoes is imported with one pair of laces (i.e., a completed pair of shoes), the attachment of the laces has no effect upon the classification of the pair of shoes. The shoes and their laces are a complete article; any further analysis under GRI 3, therefore, is unneces- sary.

Once this conclusion is reached, we must now ask ourselves whether the "completed article" analysis can be extended to one pair of shoes imported with multiple pairs of laces, where those laces are intended to be worn simultaneously with the first pair of laces; id est, "completing" the shoes in the manner the desig- ners intended. Fashion is a constantly evolving phenomena, where new styles are continuously coming into vogue. Advertising materials clearly demonstrate that a current fashion trend is toward the simultaneous wearing of multiple pairs of laces with one pair of athletic-type shoes. See also HRL 075283 of April 29, 1985 (indicating fashion trend as early as 1985). It has been maintained, therefore, that a new "completed article," (i.e., one pair of athletic-type shoes worn with multiple pairs of laces) has been created. Cf. Mast Industries, Inc. v. United States, 9 C.I.T. 549, 551 (1985) (taking judicial notice of fact that "most consumers purchase and use a garment in the manner in which it is marketed"). We agree.

In HRL 084712 of August 24, 1989, we held that where multi- ple pairs of shoe laces are imported loose in the same packing container as one pair of athletic-type shoes, the second pair of laces, plus any additional pairs of laces, form a set with the shoes. Accord HRL 085487 of September 27, 1989 (modifying on other grounds HRL 084712). Therefore, pursuant to the Directive of December 23, 1988, to the Commissioner of Customs from the Chairman, Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements, Department of Commerce, as amended August 24, 1989, the additional pairs of laces required separate visas and reporting of quota. In attempting to distinguish the instant matter, it has been suggested that since the instant laces are at least partially laced into the eyelets of the shoes at the time of importation, the rule of HRL 084712 does not apply to this matter.

This suggestion fails to address the rationale behind HRL 084712, which does not depend on whether the laces are laced, or partially laced, into the eyelets of the shoes. In HRL 084712, a complete pair of shoes was formed by the association, with the unlaced shoes, of one pair of laces; the additional pairs of laces were redundant, intended as replacement or alternate lacings. In requesting classification as a set under GRI 3(b), Reebok stated that they were providing additional pairs of laces to "allow [the wearer] a choice of several colorful shoe lac- ings". Emphasis added. This would permit "the consumer [to] therefore coordinate his/her attire." The intent behind
supplying the additional pairs of laces was to meet a particular need, not create a "completed article." Indeed, the "whole" (the shoes readily usable without any additional construction or com- ponents) was formed prior to the additional pairs of laces entering the picture. Classification as a set was, therefore, a logical extension of the use toward which the additional compo- nents were to be applied.

In the instant matter, the new "completed article" manifests itself when the additional pairs of laces are imported with the shoes. In HRL 084712, the multiple pairs of laces simply allowed the consumer a different way to coordinate his/her attire. In the instant matter, the formation of a "new" completed article (a pair of shoes worn with multiple pairs of laces), the fundamental distinguishing factor between this case and HRL 084712, does exist. HRL 084712 is therefore distinguishable, and the instant merchandise is classifiable as articles presented unassembled or disassembled. See also HRL 085487, supra ("[t]he first pair of laces imported with the shoes is considered a part of the shoes, not a set therewith). Emphasis added.


As a result of the foregoing, it is the opinion of the Cus- toms Service that where multiple pairs of laces are imported with one pair of athletic-type shoes which can accommodate, through styling and use of eyelets, all of the pairs of laces simul- taneously, and those pairs of laces are of differing colors and/or designs, absent evidence that the laces are intended to be used separately (a situation which existed, for example, in HRL 084712), a presumption is raised that the multiple pairs of laces are intended to be worn simultaneously. The one pair of shoes plus all pairs of laces is therefore considered a single article, or, where these laces are not laced into the eyelets, a single article presented unassembled under GRI 2(a). Under the CITA directive, supra, no visa is required in either case.

We note that where multiple pairs of laces of like colors and/or designs are imported, laced or not laced, with one pair of shoes, a presumption is raised diametrically opposed to the single article premise referred to above. These additional pairs of laces are presumed to be for replacement purposes (constitu- ting a redundancy in the already completed pair of shoes). Such additional laces would form a set with the shoes, under the reasoning of HRL 084712, supra.

All previous rulings not in accordance with the analysis espoused herein are modified in conformity with the foregoing.


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