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HQ 950650

January 27, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 950650 SK


TARIFF NO.: 6212.30.0020

Richard M. Wortman
Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman 12 East 49th Street
New York, N.Y. 10017

RE: Classification of women's knit girdle; support garment; nylon and lycra; not underpants; 6212, HTSUSA

Dear Mr. Wortman:

This ruling is in response to your submission of September 23, 1991, requesting the classification of women's undergarments on behalf of Mast Industries (Far East) Ltd.. A sample was submitted for Customs' examination and will be returned to you, as per your request, under separate cover.


The submitted sample, identified as style VSD113, is a women's undergarment. Your submission states that the garment is comprised of 90% nylon and 10% spandex. The label inside the article, however, lists the fabric content as 88% nylon and 12% lycra. The garment has a highly elasticized two-inch wide waistband, a gusset crotch and leg extensions that extend to mid- thigh and are trimmed with three inches of lace. There is a V- shaped panel insert on the center front of the garment. The subject merchandise will be imported from Hong Kong.


Whether the subject merchandise is classifiable under heading 6108, HTSUSA, which provides for, inter alia, women's briefs, panties and similar articles, or under heading 6212, HTSUSA, which provides for women's girdles and similar articles?


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

The article at issue, style VSD113, outwardly appears to be a women's girdle and exhibits many structural characteristics of the same. The fabric used in this garment's construction, although lighter than fabric traditionally used for girdles, provides substantial support inasmuch as there is very little lateral "give" to the fabric. The fabric stretches substantially in a lengthwise direction, providing great comfort to the wearer, but stretches minimally widthwise, thereby enabling the garment to give better support.

There are several additional factors which are presumptive of this garment's status as a women's girdle. The subject merchandise has leg extensions which reach to the mid-thigh and a V-shaped panel insert in the center front of the garment. These styling details are traditionally used with girdles because they tend to compress the upper thigh area and offer added support to the abdomen. The article is marked as a size medium. Most panties are usually sold in sizes 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 as opposed to size small, medium and large designations.

Under the Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated (TSUSA), several Headquarters Rulings classified articles that consisted of material similar to that of the submitted sample as panties and not body supporting garments. In the instant case, however, there are distinguishing factors. In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 078432, dated March 11, 1987, the subject merchandise was a women's undergarment, styled as briefs without leg extensions and without a front panel insert, comprised of 85% nylon and 15% spandex. This article was classified as a women's panty rather than a body support garment because it was not made with powernet fabric. It is Customs' opinion that this view is too restrictive with respect to the types of fabric that are deemed acceptable for use as girdles. Although rulings under the TSUSA are not precedential, there are nonetheless several reasons why the reasoning in HRL 078432 is no longer valid. First, although not in itself determinative, is the fact that the styling of the article at issue in HRL 078432 was more similar to that of a brief than a girdle, i.e., there were no leg extensions nor front panel insert. Moreover, styles in undergarments have changed dramatically in the nearly five years since HRL 078432
was issued. This is evidenced by a recent article in the March 31, 1991 issue of the New York Times entitled " Disguise Bulges, Girdles in Disguise." The article states that "new lightweight, comfortable fabrications -- like lightweight tricots and warp- weave knits of nylon and Lycra -- have made the category [girdles] inviting and sexy again." Recent trends indicate that body support garments are now often constructed from much lighter fabric than that traditionally used. Customs takes note of such fashion industry trends and incorporates them into our analysis.

The aforementioned factors, taken together, are clearly indicative of the subject merchandise's status as a women's girdle. The article at issue is not a heavy-duty support girdle, but nevertheless provides the wearer with support by using a lighter version of support fabric. Accordingly, the subject merchandise is properly classifiable under heading 6212, HTSUSA, which provides for, inter alia, girdles.


The submitted sample is classifiable under subheading 6212.20.0020, HTSUSA, which provides for brassieres, girdles, corsets, braces, suspenders, garters and similar articles and parts thereof, whether or not knitted or crocheted: girdles and panty girdles ... of man-made fibers, dutiable at a rate of 25% ad valorem with a textile category of 649.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation and the restraint (quota/visa) categories applicable to textile merchandise, your client should contact its local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.

The United States has a bilateral agreement with Hong Kong and most shipments of textiles originating in this country are subject to both visa and/or export license requirements, as well as quota restraint levels. However, in the case of textile shipments from Hong Kong, the quota levels are not administered by the U.S. Customs Service. Rather, these shipments are monitored by the U.S. Department of Commerce from import statistical data. Further advise or information pertaining to
these quota levels may be obtained by contacting this agency directly. Their address is:

Office of Textiles and Apparel
U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, D.C. 20230


John Durant, Director

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