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HQ 088374

June 24,1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 088374 JS


TARIFF NO.: 4203.29.1500

John M. Peterson
Neville, Peterson & Williams
39 Broadway
New York, NY 10006

RE: Gloves; essential character leather; classifiable heading 4203, gloves of horsehide or cowhide; not specially designed for use in skiing

Dear Mr. Peterson:

This is in reference to your letters of November 2 and 7, 1990, on behalf of Aris-Isotoner, Inc., requesting classification of two styles of gloves under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). A subsequent letter dated March 27, 1991, regarding advertising material for the relevant merchandise was also submitted.


Glove style no. 70903, the subject of your November 2 letter, is a suede and textile glove which is to be manufactured in the Philippines. The sample provided is a full fingered, lined glove which has a suede covered back of the hand and a suede leather palm. The sidewalls, fourchettes and applied cuff are constructed from acrylic knit fabric. The lining consists of an outer layer of plastic foam sewn to an inner layer of cotton knit material. A 4 x 2 inch piece of fabric backed vinyl is secured underneath the suede across the knuckle area. Fabric backed vinyl is also found on the underside of the thumb and across the palm. The glove also features a partially elasticized wrist and a hook and clasp.

The subject of your November 7 letter was glove style no. 70605, which is a full fingered, lined glove with suede leather on the palm and the palm side of the fingers and thumb. The back of the hand and the fourchettes are constructed of man-made fiber knit material with suede leather strips overlaid along the fingers and two suede chevrons on the back of the hand. The man- made fiber knit lining has an additional layer of knit backed wadding on the back of the hand side. A 2 1/2 x 4 inch piece of

fabric backed vinyl is secured underneath the knit material, along the inside of the thumb and across the palm. Additionally, the glove has a partially elasticized cuff and a hook and clasp.

You assert that both styles of gloves are of leather, specially designed for cross country ski use, and will be sold and marketed as ski gloves. Your letter of March 27, however, states that no promotional catalogues, pamphlets or other such literature has been published with regard to the sale of this merchandise as ski gloves. The only marketing evidence provided was point-of-sale advertising in the form of a hang-tag (a sample of which was provided) which has the words ARIS SKI GLOVES printed on its face. We note that the hang-tag lacks a style no. reference. You also state that Aris generally sells its merchandise to department store and other buyers during showroom sales sessions through general catalogues. Sales to general, low or middle-tiered department stores across the country was confirmed in a conference held at Customs Headquarters with you on March 12, 1991. Your letter also confirms that all sueded leather will be treated with a water-repellent chemical.


Are the gloves at issue specially designed for use in the sport of skiing.


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification shall be in accordance with the terms of the heading and any relevant section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the heading and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI may be applied, in the order of their appearance.

Since the gloves at issue are made of both leather and textile materials, which are classifiable under separate headings in the nomenclature, we must determine essential character under GRI 3(b):

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components...which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character.

Explanatory Note VIII to GRI 3(b) states that:


The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

With respect to whether the textile knit or leather portions impart the essential character to the gloves, we note that in both instances, the primary surface areas are covered with leather. Style no. 70903's entire back and palm is made of leather, with only fourchettes and a rib-knit cuff made of acrylic knit. These last two areas are virtually out of sight when the glove is worn, since the cuff becomes enveloped under the sleeve of a jacket or coat, and the fourchettes are difficult to view unless the fingers are spread. Style no. 70605 has a full leather palm and distinctive leather strips which have become a trademark. Therefore, it is Customs view that these goods must be classified as leather gloves.

The proposed classification of these gloves rests on their apparent satisfaction of the requirements for ski gloves set forth in Stonewall Trading Company v. United States, 64 Cust. Ct. 482, C.D. 4023 (1970). Nonetheless, we believe that presence of the four Stonewall criteria in a glove is not the sole and final determination of a ski glove. As your letter points out, we have recognized only that the factors cited in Stonewall demonstrate prima facie that the subject merchandise is specially designed for skiing; failure of a glove to meet all of the Stonewall criteria will not prevent its classification as a ski glove, nor will satisfaction of the criteria automatically dictate classification as a ski glove.

Instead, the language of Stonewall must be interpreted in conjunction with the design for use of the manufactured articles, an analysis consistent with precedent and mindful of advances in the ski glove industry (HQ 082336, issued November 21, 1988)(citing Sport Industries, Inc. v. United States (1970), where the court, in interpreting the term "designed for use," examined not only the features of the articles but also the materials selected and the marketing, advertising, and sale of the article).

Since the subheading for leather ski gloves, HTS 4203.21 is a use provision, it is important to consider the glove as a whole to determine its use as a ski glove. In the present instance, despite evidence of each of the Stonewall requirements in both gloves, several negative factors detract from classification of these gloves as ski gloves:


1) Both glove styles are largely covered in sueded leather, a material primarily used and associated with dress gloves; suede will absorb and retain moisture, stretch out of shape and/or expand, and dry slowly, which makes it highly unsuitable to the sport of skiing where contact with snow is a characteristic occurance; treatment of the skins with a water-repellent chemical may protect such gloves from minor contact with the elements but does not transform these gloves into gloves specially designed for use in skiing.

2) The overall appearance of these gloves indicate their similarity to the gloves sold as cold weather or dress gloves in most department stores; they are both relatively stream-lined and lack the bulk and rugged trim common to ski gloves. One style is black, the other is brown; these are the two colors most often utililized for men's dress gloves, whereas ski gloves are typically bright and/or multicolored.

3) No evidence of marketing or sale of these gloves as ski gloves was provided. On the contrary, it was confirmed that these goods are distributed to national chain department stores, rather than ski shops or similar retailers. The hang tag provided does not identify the style no. of the gloves being labeled, and does not otherwise advertise use of the gloves for skiing other than to include the word "ski."

For the reasons stated above, and in the absence of definitive evidence that these gloves are principally used in or specially designed for the sport of skiing, these gloves may not be classified as ski or cross-country ski gloves.


The merchandise at issue, style nos. 70903 and 70605 are classified under subheading 4203.29.1500, which provides for gloves, mittens and mitts: other: gloves of horsehide or cowhide (except calfskin) leather: other: with fourchettes or sidewalls which, at a minimum, extend from fingertip to fingertip between each of the four fingers, dutiable at the rate of 14 percent ad valorem per dozen pairs.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the

restraint (quota/visa) categories, the importer should contact the local Customs office prior to 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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