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HQ 951301

July 16, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 951301 CMR


TARIFF NO: 6110.30.3025, 6204.62.4030, 6505.90.6090

Area Director of Customs
U.S. Customs Service
Hemisphere Center
Routes 1 & 9 South
Newark, New Jersey 07114

RE: Internal Advice Request 15/92; Classification of certain children's garments; playsuits v. clothing sets

Dear Sir:

This ruling is in response to Internal Advice Request 15/92, initiated at the request of the firm of Sharretts, Paley, Carter & Blauvelt on behalf of its client, Baby Togs, Inc. The request concerns the proper classification of certain children's garments imported as sets. A sample, style 034307, was submitted as representative of the various sweater and pants sets at issue.


Style 034307 is identified as a girls' two-piece playsuit by the importer. It consists of a 100 percent acrylic knit sweater, 100 percent cotton corduroy pants with acrylic knit cuffs and a 100 percent acrylic knit hat. The sweater has a turned-over mock turtleneck collar, long sleeves with rib knit cuffs and a rib knit bottom. The sweater is blue with a green and red floral design combined with a white snowflake design. Sewn to the inside of each armhole seam, about an inch behind the side seams, is a strip of elastic with the male half of a snap closure on the end.

The corduroy pants are red and the acrylic knit cuffs repeat the floral design found on the sweater. The pants reach from the waist to the ankles and feature a partially elasticized waistband, i.e., less than 50 percent, and the female half of a snap closure is present on each end of the elasticized portion of
the waistband. The elastic strips sewn onto the sweater are intended to be attached to the snap closures on the pants in order to hold the pants up during wear.

The acrylic knit hat features the same floral print as appears on the sweater and the pants cuffs and a red pompon at the top. It has a turned-over rib knit bottom that duplicates the appearance of the turned-over rib knit mock turtleneck collar.

The importer is seeking classification of the garments as a girl's playsuit thus requiring only one visa for the playsuit category.


Are the garments at issue classifiable separately as distinct garments requiring separate visas or are they classifiable as a girls' playsuit requiring one visa in category 237?


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 and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to [the remaining GRIs taken in order]."

Note 13, Section XI, requires that "unless the context otherwise requires, textile garments of different headings are to be classified in their own headings even if put up in sets for retail sale." Therefore, the garments at issue are separately classified whether it is determined that they are components of a set or a playsuit. However, if it is determined that they are components of a playsuit, only one visa in category 237 will be required for entry of the garments.

Playsuit components are provided for in the HTSUSA at the statistical level. The provisions at that level are a carryover from the previous tariff, the Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated (TSUSA), in order to ensure uniformity of quota/visa treatment of goods recognized as playsuits prior to enactment of the HTSUSA. The HTSUSA and the Explanatory Notes to the HTSUSA provide no guidance in determining what is to be considered a "playsuit". Dictionary definitions are very general and would encompass a vast number of goods clearly not intended to be accorded the special quota/visa treatment which playsuits -3-
receive. A review of the previous tariff and Customs rulings thereunder reveals that the term "playsuits" was subject to a fairly stringent and specialized definition under the TSUSA. Since playsuits are only provided for at the statistical level in the HTSUSA and those statistical provisions are to ensure the continuation of a special quota/visa treatment accorded to playsuits under the TSUSA, Customs position as developed under the TSUSA regarding the classification of playsuits is controlling in this situation regarding their classification under the HTSUSA.

In HRL 075949 of March 3, 1986, Customs enumerated various factors considered in determining if garments are classifiable as playsuits. These factors include:

1. reference to the Textile Category Guidelines for Fabric and Garments Reported Under Various Textile Categories, CIE 13/88;
2. the way in which the garments are known and marketed; 3. the use of the garments;
4. the construction, design and composition of the garments; and,
5. the manner in which they are worn together.

The pertinent portion of the Textile Category Guidelines, page 9, states:

Two-piece physically connected entireties for girls 2-14 and boys 2-7, such as shirts and shorts having matching buttons and buttonholes, or shoulder loops with suspender straps designed to join the two pieces, which are so manufactured that the use of one without the other is not practicable, are encompassed within this category. However, button/buttonhole sets with pants that can reasonably be worn without the shirt, are not within this provision and are reportable separately.

The difficulty presented by garments such as the ones before us is deciding when the garments are merely parts of a set and when they go beyond being parts of a set and become a playsuit. The Textile Category Guidelines refer to playsuits as entireties and looks to the practicability of using one piece without the other piece.

To qualify as an entirety, the articles, when combined, should form a new article with a different character or use from the parts; or one of the articles or components should predominate with the other components being merely incidental to the predominant part. E.M. Stevens Corp. v. United States, 49 Cust. Ct. 203, 204, Abstract 66971 (1962), appeal dismissed, 53 CCPA 155, C.A.D. 5266 (1966). In contrast, when articles -4-
imported together as a unit retain their individual identities and are not subordinated to the identity of the combination, the articles will not be considered an entirety and will be separately classified. Donalds Ltd., Inc. v. United States, 32 Cust. Ct. 310, 315, C.D. 1619 (1954).

In HRL 079553 of March 30, 1988, Customs stated:

We have determined, based in part on an examination of representative commercial practices in the United States, that two-piece combination garments are not classifiable as playsuits when they are merely joined at the waist by buttons or other fasteners and do not form a new commercial entity generally recognized as a playsuit. [emphasis added]. * * * [I]n preparing rulings we will examine all features of garment combinations to be certain that the joining of the garments is commercially realistic and results in a new article of commerce known generally and commercially as a playsuit.

In regard to the garments before us that make up style 034307, the importer and its counsel have submitted that the hidden connection of the sweater with the corduroy pants using thin elastic straps with snaps is necessary to hold the pants up during wear. They submit that without this connection the pants would fall down during the course of normal activity. This connection, in their view, makes the use of the pants without the sweater impracticable.

Additionally, the importer and its counsel have submitted documents to support their position that these garments are designed, manufactured, imported, marketed and sold as a single commercial entity. The documentation clearly supports a view that these garments are a set; that the garments are marketed and sold as a unit, i.e., a set. However, the garments do not become a playsuit simply because they are marketed and sold together as a set. They must meet the requirements of a playsuit discussed above.

At the request of this office, the National Import Specialist who deals with this merchandise conducted a trade survey to determine if the type of connection used in style 034307 is considered commercially realistic and if the garments when presented together are generally recognized as a playsuit or merely as a set. The National Import Specialist surveyed children's wear resources in New York City to determine the marketplace perception and merchandise recognition of two distinct apparel styles.

The garment styles used in the survey were color coordinated garments which featured connecting devices for joining the top -5-
and bottoms. One style consisted of three color coordinated garments--a woven pair of seersucker pants, a short sleeve knit shirt, and a finely knit cardigan with a deep V-front. The pants, which had a partially elasticized waistband, had two buttons sewn inside the waistband at the sides. The shirt had elastic loops sewn into the shirt side seams so that the loops could be attached to the buttons on the pants thus joining the two garments.

The other style used in the trade survey consisted of a woven pair of shorts and a knit pullover. This style featured the same type of connection used in the style at issue herein, i.e., elastic fabric straps which are sewn into the interior shirt side seams which snap onto the partially elasticized waistband of the bottoms.

The National Import Specialist's report indicates that the type of connection used in this case, an elastic strap with snaps, is not considered commercially realistic and that the garments are not generally or commercially recognized as a playsuit, but are recognized as a set. The same result is true of the other type of connecting feature, i.e., buttons and elastic loops. All survey participants considered both styles to be coordinated apparel sets. The attachment features were not noticed until brought to the attention of the survey participants.

This office does not consider the garments that make up style 034307 to constitute a playsuit for tariff purposes. The Textile Category Guidelines describe playsuits as "two-piece physically connected entireties." These garments do not form an entirety. When worn, they clearly retain their individual identities. They do not take on a different character or use when combined. The sweater remains a sweater and the pants remain pants; neither component predominates over the other. When the garments are worn together they have the appearance of a coordinated set and that is what Customs considers them to be.

As to the practicability of wearing the pants without the sweater and the snap connection, although the waistband is less than 50 percent elasticized, the ability of the pants to remain in place during wear without the assistance of some device is dependent on the size of the child wearing the pants. This office concurs with the opinion of the National Import Specialist for this merchandise that the joining of the garments with the elastic straps and snaps is not considered commercially realistic.


Style 034307 is considered a set, not a playsuit. Therefore, the garments which make up style 034307 are separately classifiable as individual garments and not as parts of playsuits. The sweater is classifiable as a girls' knit sweater of man-made fibers in subheading 6110.30.3025, HTSUSA, textile category 646, dutiable at 34.2 percent ad valorem. The corduroy pants are classifiable as girls' woven cotton corduroy trousers in subheading 6204.62.4030, HTSUSA, textile category 348, dutiable at 17.7 percent ad valorem. The knit hat is classifiable in subheading 6505.90.6090, HTSUSA, textile category 659, dutiable at 39.7 cents/kg plus 14.1 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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