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HQ 088077

October 25, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 088077 PR


TARIFF NO.: 6110.10.2030

Mr. Tommy Lai
Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office
1233 20th Street NW suite 504
Washington, D.C. 200036

RE: Sweater Which Reaches Area of Midthigh Not Classifiable as a Coat; Application of C.I.E. 13/88, Textile and Apparel Category Guidelines

Dear Mr. Lai:

This is in reply to your inquiry of October 15, 1990, concerning a ruling by our Houston office on the tariff classification of a certain garment.


The submitted sample, a size M, is an unlined lightweight knit women's lamb's wool and angora upper body garment. It has long sleeves without cuffs, a full front opening without a closure, shoulder pads, two patch pockets below the waist, and a shawl collar that extends to the hem. When worn by one of our staff members, the garment came to the area of her midthigh. The fabric from which the garment is constructed has less than nine stitches per two centimeters.


The issue presented is whether the subject garment is classifiable as a coat in accordance with the cited ruling or as a women's sweater in subheading 6110.10.2030. The determining factor is whether the garment is too long to be a sweater.


The subject garment is in all outward respects a sweater. However, Customs Textile and Apparel Category Guidelines, C.I.E. 13/88, state that sweaters extend "from the neck or shoulders to the waist or below (as far as the mid-thigh)." It was determined by our Houston office that the garment extended below the midthigh. Therefore, following the guidelines, the garment was not classified as a sweater.

It should be borne in mind that the guidelines are just that, guides to ascertaining the common or commercial designation of a textile article. C.I.E. 13/88 is not an immutable document. It must be applied in a reasonably prudent manner in order for the results obtained from its application to be meaningful.

While the description of sweaters in C.I.E. 13/88 may generally reflect commercial reality where a garment is not clearly identifiable as being either a sweater or a coat, we are concerned that the midthigh rule may, at times be utilized without regard to the character of the garment and/or the intended wearer of the garment. We believe that there may be garments which exceed the midthigh-length criteria and which are still, because of their fabric, construction, and styling, commercially and commonly known as sweaters.

In addition, the length of a garment in relation to the wearer is dependent on the individual's measurements (dimensions). Accordingly, where it is necessary because of the nature of the garment to determine whether that garment reaches to, or below, the midthigh area, some degree of consideration should be given to reasonable variations in the measurements of an intended wearer.

We realize that the above liberalizes to a small degree the description of sweaters contained in C.I.E. 13/88. However, while adhering rigidly to a description in C.I.E. 13/88 may promote uniformity of classification, which is extremely desirable, it may also, on occasion, result in a garment being misclassified. As stated above, C.I.E. 13/88 is merely a guide to enable Customs to determine the common and commercial identity of a garment and to classify it accordingly.


When the submitted sample is worn by an individual who normally wears the submitted size, the bottom hem of the garment reaches the midthigh area. Accordingly, that garment complies with Customs' description of a sweater. However, even if the garment were slightly longer, the sample, in our view, belongs to a class of garments commonly and commercially known as sweaters. Accordingly, it is classifiable under the provision for women's wool sweaters, in Subheading 6110.10.2030. Textile and apparel category 446 is applicable to merchandise classifiable in that provision.


John Durant, Director

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