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HQ 951116

April 24, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 951116 jb


TARIFF NO.: 6109.10.0005

Barry E. Powell
Grunfeld, Desiderio,Lebowitz & Silverman
707 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 5320
Los Angeles, CA. 90017

RE: Classification of men's T-shirts; fabric weight a consideration.

Dear Mr. Powell:

This is in response to your letter of October 11, 1991 on behalf of your client, New-Cari, Inc., regarding the classification of certain men's pullover garments which will be imported from the Dominican Republic. Two samples were submitted to Customs for examination.


The two samples, Styles T-6 and T-8, consist of men's all white pullover garments constructed from 100 percent cotton, finely knit, jersey fabric. Each garment has a rib knit, crew neckline; short, set in, hemmed sleeves and a hemmed bottom. The front and back panels and the sleeves are each constructed from a single piece of fabric. The garments are not oversized and the importer has indicated that they will be imported in men's sizes S through XXXL.


Whether heavier weighted T-shirt fabric can properly be classified under heading 6109, HTSUSA, which provides, inter alia, for T-shirts?


Classification of goods under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Subheading 6109.10.0005, HTSUSA, provides for:

Men's or boys':
T-shirts, all white, short hemmed bottom, crew or round neckline, without pockets, trim or embroidery.

The Explanatory Notes, which are the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level, provide guidance as to the meaning of the term "T-shirts":

The term "T-shirts" means lightweight knitted or crocheted garments of the vest type, of cotton or man-made fibre, not napped, nor of pile or terry fabric, in one or more colours, with or without pockets, with long or short close-fitting sleeves, without buttons or other fastenings, without collar, without opening in the neckline, having a close- fitting or lower neckline (round, square, boat-shaped or V- shaped). These garments may have decoration, other than lace, in the form of advertising, pictures or an inscription in words, obtained by printing, knitting or other process. The bottom of these garments, usually hemmed, is never made with a ribbed waistband, drawstring or other means of tightening.

Likewise, the Textile Category Guidelines, CIE 13/88 (November 23, 1988), are employed as a technical reference offering similar guidance in the determination of the appropriate textile categories for garments. These guidelines insure uniformity and represent the present position of the Customs Service. In defining garments considered "T-shirts" or "like T- shirts", CIE states:

Other T-shirts in Heading 6109, which are assigned Category 338/339/638/639/838, must be constructed of the underwear type and from lightweight, knit underwear-type fabric, not napped, nor of pile or terry fabric, with or without pockets, and with long or short close-fitting sleeves. The garments should have a close-fitting or lower neckline (round, square, boat-shaped or V-shaped) and may have decoration, other than lace, in the form of pictures, words, or letters, obtained by printing, knitting, or other processes. The bottom of the garment is usually hemmed. A ribbed waistband, a drawstring, or other tightening at the waist is not allowed. Buttons or other fastenings, openings in the neckline, and collars, are not allowed.

The Explanatory Note indicates that the term "T-shirts" refers to "lightweight knitted or crocheted garments" of the vest (underwear) type. This definition does not require that the garment be constructed of lightweight fabric but that the finished T-shirt itself should be a lightweight garment. The Explanatory Note and CIE recognize that T-shirts may have decoration in the form of advertising, pictures or an inscription in words. This would suggest that the writers of the definition sought to broaden the scope of the term "T-shirts" to include not only the traditional underwear T-shirt but also outerwear T- shirts.

It is difficult to collect any tangible data outlining appropriate fabric weights for T-shirts. Surveys concerning this issue have shown that importers, buyers, domestic manufacturers and retailers rely on custom or practice within the trade. A "feel" test of the T-shirt is often futile because of the various processings the garment might have undergone in its initial stages. For example, carded yarns will produce a fabric of rougher texture, serviceable for inexpensive cotton fabrics, giving the fabric a heavier and coarser feel. On the other hand, when the fiber is intended for fine yarns, the fibers will go through an additional stage, combing, producing a smoother, softer and sometimes lighter feel ( B.P. Corbman and M.D. Potter, Fiber to Fabric, (4th ed. 1967), p.35.).

Although the weight of underwear T-shirt fabric has remained stable throughout the years, the weight of outerwear T-shirt fabric has increased as T-shirts have become a fashion staple. This trend has evidenced itself in the availability of heavier weight T-shirts in today's market.

In the United States underwear T-shirts are traditionally constructed of finely knit jersey fabric weighing 130 to 145 grams per square meter. In recent years, however, heavier weight T-shirts have been marketed for the outerwear trade. Extensive contact with the trade over the past 18 months has shown that changes in consumer taste have led to a trend in today's outerwear market producing T-shirts of heavier material distinguishing them from the traditional underwear garments. These outerwear T-shirts generally vary in weight from 160 grams to 180 grams per square meter with some garments approaching 200 grams per square meter.

Traditional underwear manufacturers, such as Hanes, produce both a standard weight underwear T-shirt and a "Beefy T" T-shirt.

The latter is constructed of fabric weighing approximately 180 grams per square meter. Russell Athletic also produces a heavyweight T-shirt advertised in the Spring 1991, L.L. Bean catalogue. This garment is described as a "superior one-pocket T-shirt... found to be one of the finest T-shirts available." Russell Athletic's product engineer has indicated that the fabric weight for this garment is 189 grams per square meter. Champion Sportswear, in its 1991 Activewear Catalogue also offers a high quality outerwear T-shirt, described as a heavyweight T-shirt, constructed of fabric weighing from 186 to 200 grams per square meter. While this fabric is considered a medium weight fabric for upper body garments, it is nevertheless, a heavier weight fabric for T-shirt construction.

Therefore, garments which are commonly and commercially sold in the United States today as T-shirts range from the traditional underwear garments of very light fabric to outerwear garments of mid-weight to heavier weight fabric. The basic configuration, cut and construction of the garment, however, is that of the familiar underwear T-shirt; the only difference being in the weight of the fabric used.

The above mentioned range in fabric weights, reflected in the practice within the trade, has served as a guideline for many rulings. This in effect has limited the weight of outerwear T- shirts to within the 200 grams per square meter range while trying to maintain consistent with the trade practice interpretation of the term "lightweight" (see New York Ruling 850434, May 31, 1990; Headquarters Ruling 087211, October 9, 1990; New York Ruling 868051, November 18, 1991).

Consequently, garments constructed of finely knit, plain jersey or interlock fabric, of weights not exceeding 200 grams per square meter, in the plain configuration of the traditional T-shirt, will produce a lightweight upper body garment satisfying both the Explanatory Note and CIE definition of a T-shirt. Garments in these weights are recognized in the trade and commerce of the United States as satisfying the underwear classification.

Laboratory analysis of submitted sample Style T-6 has indicated that it is constructed of fabric weighing 180.9 grams per square meter while the fabric weight of Style T-8 is 157.2 grams per square meter. Both garments are constructed in the shape and style of a traditional T-shirt and differ only in fabric weight from the traditional underwear T-shirt. Based on the fabric weight guidelines used in the trade, both samples fall within the 200 grams per square meter range allowing their inclusion in the outerwear T-shirt classification.


The submitted samples, Style T-6 and T-8, are of the class or kind of merchandise commonly and commercially recognized in the United States as T-shirts. The proper classification for these garments is in subheading 6109.10.0005, HTSUSA, textile category 352, dutiable at 21 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.


John Durant, Director

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