United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1993 HQ Rulings > HQ 0084710 - HQ 0085971 > HQ 0085695

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 085695

October 17, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 085695 HP


TARIFF NO.: 6106.10.0010; 6109.10.0060

Mr. John F. Consolini
Executive Vice President/Chief Executive Officer Bernard Chaus Inc.
1410 Broadway
New York, NY 10018

RE: Women's knit tops

Dear Mr. Consolini:

This is in reply to your letter of October 3, 1989, concerning the tariff classification of women's knit tops, produced in China, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The merchandise at issue consists of five styles of women's tops. Model ST-323 is a beige short sleeve 100% knit cotton garment with a crew neck, shoulder pads attached by means of Velcro-like attachments, a hemmed waist, one back panel and four front panels, and sleeves measuring approximately 9.5" high by 5.75" long, with tightening devices at the ends.

Model ST-410 is a yellow-gold short sleeve 100% cotton knit garment with a crew neck, shoulder pads attached by means of Velcro-like attachments, a hemmed waist, one back and one front panel, a front patch pocket, and hemmed sleeves measuring ap- proximately 9.5" high by 8" long.

Model ST-380 is a black sleeveless 100% cotton knit top with a U-shaped neck reaching below the nape of the neck, non- detachable shoulder straps measuring approximately 1.9" in width, a straight-hemmed waist, and a 2" high by 2.25" wide embroidered logo on the top center chest area of the garment.

Style 1086539 is a blue three-quarter sleeve 100% knit cotton top with a crew neck, a hemmed bottom with hemmed slit sides, shoulder pads attached by means of Velcro-like attachments, one front and one back panel, sleeves measuring approximately 11.25" high by 13" long, and an ornamented woven applique of unknown material sewn onto the front of the garment. The applique consists of a printed design in an equine theme, a thick rope border glued to the design, raised threads in imitation of a horse's mane, and plastic tubes, balls and imitation jewelry sewn onto the design.

Style 1226679 is a pink and white striped short sleeve top with a heavy herringbone-like crew neck, a primarily hemmed waist with slit sides, heavy herringbone-like fabric sewn onto the slits, shoulder pads attached by means of Velcro-like attach- ments, one front and one back panel, sleeves measuring 11.75" high by 6.5" long, and an ornamented woven applique of 100% rayon sewn onto the front of the garment. The applique consists of a printed design in a floral theme, with plastic tubes, bamboo tubes, plastic balls, and what appears to be metallized yarn sewn onto the design.


Whether the instant garments are considered T-shirts under the HTSUSA?


Material Components of All Styles

You have stated that all styles are of 100% knit cotton, except for the applique and herringbone-like fabric (rayon and partially nylon, respectively), of Style 1226679. The Explanatory Notes to the HTSUSA constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. The General Explanatory Note to Chapter 61, HTSUSA, states that

... classification of goods in this Chapter is not affected by the presence of parts or accessories of, for example, woven fabrics, furskin, feathers, leather, plastics or metal, [where such parts or accessories constitute mere trimming.]

As the applique and fabric at the bottom slits are simply trimming, they are ignored for classification purposes under Chapter 61, HTSUSA. All styles of shirts, therefore, are considered 100% knit cotton.

Model ST-380

Subheading 6109.10.0060, HTSUSA, provides for women's knit tank tops, of cotton. The Guidelines for the Reporting of Imported Products in Various Textile and Apparel Categories, CIE 13/88 (Nov. 23, 1988), at 13, defines tank tops as

... sleeveless with oversized armholes, with or without a significant drop below the arm. The front and the back may have a round, V, U, scoop, boat, square or other shaped neck which must be below the nape of the neck. The body of the garment is supported by straps not over two inches in width reaching over the shoulder. The straps must be attached to the garment and not be easily detachable. Bottom hems may be straight or curved, side-vented, or of any other type normally found on a blouse or shirt, including blouson or drawstring waists or an elastic bottom. The following features would preclude a garment from consideration as a tank top:

1) pockets, real or simulated, other than breast pockets;

2) any belt treatment including simple loops; 3)any type of front or back neck opening (zipper, button, or otherwise).

As embroidery does not preclude classification of a garment as a tank top, it is clear that Model ST-380 is classifiable as such.

Other Styles

Subheading 6109.10.0040, HTSUSA, provides for women's knit T-shirts, of cotton. The Textile Guidelines, supra, at 12, define T-shirts as follows:

Other T-shirts in Heading 6109 [(aside from men's and boys' white underwear style cotton T-shirts)], ... 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.
[Emphasis added.]

The Textile Guidelines, supra, at 25, provide that "the term `underwear' refers to garments which are ordinarily worn under other garments and are not exposed to view when the wearer is conventionally dressed for appearance in public...."

The Explanatory Note to heading 6109, HTSUSA, defines the term "T-shirts" similarly, adding that they can be either knit or crocheted, and of "one or more colours."

It is our opinion that none of the instant styles are considered T-shirts under the definitions cited above. The presence of, or provision for, attached or detachable shoulder pads, is incongruous with the requirement that garments be "con- structed of the underwear type." Therefore, classification of the instant merchandise as T-shirts is precluded.

In addition to a binding ruling, you requested answers to several questions. Firstly, any relevant textile sub-parts will be noted in the first paragraph of the Holding segment of this ruling letter.

Secondly, T-shirts may have long or short sleeves, so long as the sleeves are "close-fitting." Many, if not all, of the instant styles and models would likely have failed this test.

Thirdly, while "too much" ornamentation, i.e., an elaborate print, would not normally preclude classification as a T-shirt, the type of decoration might. The Textile Guidelines, supra, state that allowable decoration on T-shirts may be "obtained by printing, knitting, or other processes." We view this to preclude the type of decoration in Styles 1086539 and 1226679; glued-on ropes, raised threads, and plastic and bamboo effects sewn onto the applique.

Finally, heaviness of the fabric is highly relevant to classification of a garment as a T-shirt. The Textile Guidelines, supra, require T-shirts to be made "from lightweight, knit underwear-type fabric...." Emphasis added. Garments of too heavy a fabric, therefore, could not be classified as a T-shirt.


As a result of the foregoing, the instant merchandise is classified as follows:

Model ST-380 under subheading 6109.10.0060, HTSUSA, textile category 339, as T-shirts, singlets, tank tops and similar garments, knitted or crocheted, of cotton, women's or girls', other, tank tops, women's. The applicable rate of duty is 21 percent ad valorem.

All other models and styles under subheading 6106.10.0010, HTSUSA, textile category 339-S, as women's or girls' blouses or shirts, knitted or crocheted, of cotton, women's. The applicable rate of duty is 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 renegotiations 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 applicability of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division?

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: