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HQ 950991

April 8, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 950991 JS


TARIFF NO.: 6104.62.2010; 6104.63.2010

Sal Castro
Columbia Shipping Inc.
138-01 Springfield Blvd.
Jamaica, New York 11413

RE: Women's leggings; tights; pants; classifiable heading 6104, HTSUSA

Dear Mr. Castro:

This is in reference to your letter of December 4, 1991, on behalf of High Point Knitting Inc., requesting classification of women's leggings under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


A sample of the merchandise at issue, style no. LS-43, was provided for our inspection. It is a lower body garment for women, made of a knit fabric containing 58 percent cotton, 31 percent polyester, and 11 percent spandex. The pants/leggings are footless and extend to the ankle. The garment features a 1/2 inch elastic waistband, and two centered back seems which run from the waist to the cuffed ankles. There is also a gusset sewn into the crotch.

Although not mentioned in your letter, a submission signed by importer and included with your letter indicates that this garment, which is to be produced in Taiwan, will also be made with 100 percent nylon fabric.


Whether the submitted sample is classifiable as tights of heading 6115, HTSUSA, or as trousers of heading 6104, HTSUSA.



Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Garments similar to the merchandise at issue, which have been commercially referred to under the term "leggings," have been the subject of numerous Customs rulings, including HRL 088454 dated October 11, 1991, and more recently, HRL 089852 dated February 19, 1992. These rulings distinguished at length the wide range of form-fitting garments for the lower torso and legs.

Customs examined the meaning of the term "tights" for tariff purposes in HRL 088454. That examination resulted in a determination that tights are garments which are partially underwear and partially outerwear, intended to be exposed, in part, and covered, in part. See, Children's Hose Inc., v. United States, 55 Cust. Ct. 6, C.D. 2547 (1965). Customs also concluded that, based on the various definitions reviewed and the language of heading 6115, HTSUSA, that tights are a form of hosiery.

If tights are a form of hosiery, it becomes necessary to determine whether the goods at issue are commonly and commercially recognized as hosiery. Customs has consulted lexicographic sources and sought information from the hosiery industry regarding the industry's definition of hosiery. Various sources define hosiery, in pertinent part, in the following manner:

1.a. Stockings and socks: HOSE. b. Chiefly Brit. Stockings, socks, and underclothing. 2. The business of a hosier. Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary (1984)

1. A collective term for knitted or woven hose, especially women's stockings. * * * 2. A term used in Great Britain to indicate any knitted article. Fairchild's Dictionary of Textiles (1970).

Knit or woven coverings for the feet and legs designed to be worn inside shoes, particularly women's stockings and tights; also socks for men, women, and children. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica Vol. 5, at 147 (1975) (found at beginning of discussion of hosiery)


Various other sources define hose as:

A leg covering, in modern use covering also the foot, but formerly sometimes reaching only to the ankle; a stocking or stockings; Close-fitting covering for the legs and waist of the general nature of tights, as formerly worn, often fastened to the doublet by ribbons or strings called points; later, breeches reaching only to the knee. Webster's New International Dictionary, Unabridged (2nd Ed., 1939)

A cloth leg covering that reaches down to the ankle and sometimes covers the foot; stocking, sock (a pair of -) - usu. used in pl.; A close-fitting garment similar to tights that covers the body from the waist to and sometimes including the feet and is usu. attached to a doublet by points. Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged (1986)

Stockings, or covering for lower leg and foot, usually knit or woven. Formerly not made to cover the foot.; Tights, or hose reaching to the waist, formerly fastened to doublet with points. Mary Brooks Picken, The Fashion Dictionary at 195 (1973)

However, the definitions above do not resolve or clarify the issue for Customs purposes as the meaning of tights is also at issue. Additionally, the definition above of hosiery as "a close-fitting garment that covers the body from the waist to and sometimes including the feet" could arguably describe certain types of trousers. (See trousers definitions below).

Therefore, in an effort to determine the common characteristic(s) of articles regarded as hosiery, Customs turned to the hosiery industry for clarification regarding the commercial understanding of the term "hosiery." It is a well- established tenet of customs law that tariff terms are construed in accordance with their common and commercial meanings and that the common meaning of a tariff term is a question of law. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. v. United States, 7 CIT 178, 182, 585 F. Supp. 649 (1984), aff'd, 753 F.2d 1061 (Fed. Cir. 1985). However, whenever the common meaning is somewhat indefinite, "it is proper to consider the interpretation commonly placed upon it in the particular industry involved." United States V. Colonial Commerce Co., Ltd., et al., 44 CCPA 18, C.A.D. 629 (1956).

The information Customs has received from sources in the hosiery industry, such as the National Association of Hosiery Manufacturers (NAHM), indicates that the industry views manufactured hosiery as articles produced on hosiery machines.


These machines are circular knitting machines with various diameter heads. They produce seamless, tubular fabric which is finished to make stockings, pantyhose, tights, socks, etc. Garments such as those at issue herein, i.e., garments which are clearly produced from a cut-and-sew process, are not viewed by the NAHM as articles of the hosiery industry, but as articles of the apparel industry.

Customs has also looked to the hosiery industry with respect to marketing of these goods. These garments are generally found near the hosiery section in department stores or sometimes as part of a subsection within the hosiery section, but always as a distinct section unto itself, as bodywear or activewear.

Based on the information above, Customs does not view the goods at issue herein as hosiery. Since heading 6115, HTSUSA is limited by its terms to articles of hosiery, these garments cannot be classified as tights of that heading.

We next consider whether these goods may be classified as trousers of heading 6104, HTSUSA, or as other garments of heading 6114, HTSUSA. Various sources define trousers as follows:

An outer garment of men or boys, extending from the waist to the knee or, oftener and almost always with men, to the ankle, and covering each leg separately. Orig. they were of the nature of long hose or tight drawers and were worn esp. by sailors and soldiers. Webster's New International Dictionary, Unabridged (2nd Ed., 1939)

A usually loose-fitting outer garment for the lower part of the body, having individual leg portions that reach typically to the ankle but sometimes to any of various other points from the upper leg down, worn esp. by men and boys. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language (1983)

An outer garment extending from the waist to the ankle or sometimes only to or just below the knee, covering each leg separately, made close-fitting or loose-fitting in accordance with the fashion of different periods, and worn typically by men and boys. Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged (1986) [Emphasis added]

Outer garment extending from the waist to below the knee, covering each leg separately. Worn mostly by men and boys. Formerly, very tight, similar to long hose. Mary Brooks Picken, The Fashion Dictionary at 390 (1973)


The above definitions indicate that they are garments which cover the lower torso from the waist to the ankle or, sometimes, simply to the knee, and cover each leg separately. At least two definitions above illustrate that trousers may be close-fitting depending on the fashion. The Explanatory Notes define trousers as:
garments which envelop each leg separately, covering the knees and usually reaching down to or below the ankles; these garments usually stop at the waist; the presence of braces does not cause these garments to lose the essential character of trousers.

It is clear from the foregoing that the goods at issue fall within the general definition of trousers. The fabric is a relatively heavy weight opaque material, which has the appearance of snug-fitting trousers. Although the garment has a gusset and back leg seams, this is not prima facie evidence of tights as indicated above; this garment is made from the cut and sew method which is characteristic of the apparel industry and as such, is properly classifiable under heading 6104, HTSUSA. General Rule of Interpretation 3(a) states that the heading which provides the most specific description is favored over headings providing a more general description. Based on GRI 3(a) and not being satisfied that the subject garments are "more than" or "other than" pants, the garments at issue are properly classified in heading 6104, HTSUSA.


The subject merchandise is classified under subheading 6104.62.2010, HTSUSA, which provides for 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), knitted or crocheted: trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts: of cotton: other, trousers and breeches: women's, textile category 348, dutiable at the rate of 16.7 percent ad valorem.

If the garment at issue is made of 100 percent nylon, classification is appropriate under subheading 6104.63.2010, HTSUSA, textile category 648, dutiable at the rate of 30 percent ad valorem.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, the 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 renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we

suggest you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report On Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service which is updated weekly and is available for inspection 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 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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