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HQ 951755

October 9, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 951755 jb


TARIFF NO.: 6104.31.00

Alan R. Klestadt, Esquire
Suzanne B. Barnett, Esquire
Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman 12 East 49th Street
New York, NY 10017

RE: Modification of NYRL 870685 and binding classification for boiled wool sweaters; subheading 6104.31.00, HTSUSA

Dear Mr. Klestadt and Ms. Barnett:

This is in response to your letter, dated April 30, 1992, on behalf of your client, Mast Industries, Inc., requesting reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 870685, dated January 27, 1992. In addition, you requested a binding classification ruling on two other styles of apparel involving the same issue. Samples were provided to this office for examination and will be returned under separate cover.


All three of the submitted samples are constructed from 100 percent wool knit fabric that is specially treated prior to its assembly as a garment. The procedure involves boiling the fabric in water under very high temperatures. The resulting fabric lacks the elasticity that is normally attributed to sweater fabric.

1. Style XK9692W was the subject of NYRL 870685 which classified the garment under the appropriate provisions for women's knit jackets, of wool. The outer surface of the fabric has more than nine stitches per two centimeters measured in the horizontal direction. The garment features a full-front opening with a six-button closure that fastens from the neck to below the waist. There is a front placket made from double-layered fabric and a round neck with double-layered fabric at the front only. The long sleeves are hemmed at the ends. There are two front and two rear panels on the garment that are sewn together lengthwise and a rear yoke. Additionally, there is one rear panel and two front panels at the bottom, which are double-layered fabric panels sewn horizontally to the garment. You claim that this particular style was, in effect, the subject of two rulings and two different classifications. In NYRL 870685, classification was given in heading 6102, HTSUSA, under the provision for woman's "overcoat--- windbreaker (or) similar article". In NYRL 871108, dated February 25, 1992, you claim what was an "identical" garment, with a different style number (MXK799), was classified in heading 6104, HTSUSA, under the provision for a woman's suit-type jacket".

2. Style XK9780W has an outer surface whose fabric consists of nine or fewer stitches per two centimeters measured in the horizontal direction. The garment has a full- front opening with a six-button closure and a round neckline. It also has long sleeves and two front pockets that are below the waist. The neckline, the front placket, sleeve ends and the bottom of the garment are finished with jersey knit capping that is covered by a decorative yarn. The garment consists of three panels, two in the front and one in the rear. In addition, you state that this particular garment will be constructed from tighter boiled wool fabric than the fabric from which the enclosed production sample was produced.

3. Style XK9765W has an outer surface whose fabric has more than nine stitches per two centimeters measured in the horizontal direction. The garment features a full- front opening with a five-button closure, a round neck with a shirt-type knit collar, oversized armholes and long sleeves that are finished with rib knit capping. The bottom of the garment is hemmed. It extends from the neck and shoulders to slightly below the waist. It has three panels, two in front and one in back.

You claim that the garments should be classified under heading 6110, HTSUSA, which provides for sweaters and similar articles. Your arguments are as follows:

I. The garments are designed, marketed and sold as sweaters.

II. The garments in issue are properly classifiable under heading 6110, HTSUSA.

III. The boiled wool garments are principally used as sweaters.

Whether the subject merchandise is classifiable under heading 6110, HTSUSA, which provides for sweaters and similar articles, or under heading 6104, HTSUSA, which provides for women's or girl's suit-type jackets?


Classification of goods under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining GRI will be applied in the order of their appearance.

Examination of Style XK9780W reveals that it has a different fabric stitch count than the other two samples. You mention that the actual garment will be constructed from a tighter boiled wool fabric than the fabric from which the enclosed production sample was produced. This proposed construction change may have significance in determining the final ten digit item number under the HTSUSA. Similarly, your claim that Style XK9692W was the subject of two rulings and two different classifications, cannot be verified in the absence of a sample of Style MXK799. As such, classification of the garments will be based solely on the submitted merchandise.

The boiled wool fabric used to make the three samples under review is a descendant of the "loden cloth", which originated in Tyrol, a section of Austria. As explained in George E. Linton's The Modern Textile and Apparel Dictionary, (4th revised ed., 1973), p.341-342, this fabric which was originally woven, is a thick, fulled soft material that is quite waterproof without being treated chemically, and is an ideal cloth for use in winter wear garments such as sports clothes, finger-tip or full-length coatings throughout the world. "Fulling" is described as a process in the finishing of woolen cloth. The cloth is dampened and beaten under heat, which causes shrinking, increases the weight and obscures the weave of the cloth (Ibid p. 258).

More recently, these same effects, i.e., fabric strength and stability, and warmth and protection from the elements for the wearer, were achieved using knitted fabric that was especially constructed and treated, as an alternative to the more traditional woven fabric. The knitting process produced a "links and links" fabric structure that was boiled in water at very high temperatures. The fabric featured tightened knit stitches, great structural stability and reduced horizontal elasticity. Garments made with this fabric are called "loden coats", "loden jackets" or more simply, "boiled wool jackets". They have become popular with modern women because they combine function (warmth) with fashion (made according to classic styling and intended to coordinate with a dressy skirt).

I. The Garments are Designed, Marketed and Sold as Sweaters

In support of your claim you refer to Mast Industries v. U.S., 9 CIT 549 (1985), in which the court established that wearing apparel is to be classified in accordance with the manner in which it is designed, marketed and sold. Though these criteria are important to tariff determination, strict adherence to this policy would greatly obstruct Customs' goal of insuring national uniformity in tariff classification of imported products.

You state that the importer has organized their purchasing departments by product line. In this regard, though you submitted documents purporting to show that the garments were purchased by the department which is normally charged with buying and selling sweaters, you submitted no evidence relating to how the garments are marketed and sold in the United States at retail. If Customs is to rely on the "method of trade" or the "channels of trade" in its tariff determination, how the garments are sold will be given as much importance as where the garments are located (i.e., the particular department) in the store.

II. The Garments in Issue are Properly Classifiable under Heading 6110, HTSUSA.

You refer to the Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN), concerning heading 6103, HTSUSA, which includes men's or boy's jackets and blazers. Those EN apply mutatis mutandis to the articles of heading 6104, HTSUSA, which include women's or girls' jackets and blazers. The EN to heading 6103, HTSUSA, in describing the jacket portion of a suit, state:

(A) -one suit coat or suit jacket the outer shell of which, (exclusive of sleeves, and facings or collar, if any) consists of at least four panels (two in front and two at the back) sewn together lengthwise, designed to cover the upper part of the body, with a full front opening without a closure or with a closure other than a slide fastener (zipper). It does not extend below the mid- thigh area and is not for wear over another coat, jacket or blazer. A tailored waistcoat may also be included.

The dictionary definitions for the competing designations of this merchandise are delineated in Essential Terms of Fashion by Charlotte Mankey Calasibetta, (1986), which states the following:
sweater- clothing for the upper part of the body, worn either as an outer garment or under a coat or jacket (p. 210)
jacket- item of apparel, usually shorter than hip-length, designed to be worn over other clothing either indoors or outdoors-- in the 20th century many styles, for both formal and informal occasions, were introduced for both men and women (p. 90).
coat- hip length to full-length outerwear with sleeves, designed to be worn over other clothing (p.33).

It is evident by these definitions that while coats are clearly outerwear and jackets are definitely worn over other wearing apparel, sweaters are worn both ways- as outerwear or under a coat or jacket.

The boiled wool jackets under review meet the definition for jackets in that they are worn over other apparel and provide a considerable degree of warmth and weather protection to the wearer. Simultaneously, they qualify as jackets worn on more formal occasions, allowing the wearer to display a fashionable, high-quality, high-style jacket. Thus the garments achieve a dual purpose by providing the wearer with warmth during the cool months of Fall or Spring, and a more formal garment on dressy occasions. Accordingly, we cannot agree with your assertion that the garments only provide warmth for the wearer indoors and are not intended to be worn as primary protection from the elements outdoors.

You make reference to two Headquarters decisions which you claim address the distinction between garments classified under heading 6110, HTSUSA and heading 6104, HTSUSA. The first decision, HQ 084183, dated August 3, 1989, ruled that a fine knit cardigan-like garment with a full-front, deep V-neck opening without means of closure, and two pockets below the waist, was not a suit-type jacket because it lacked tailoring. Instead, classification was given as a sweater-like garment, under heading 6110, HTSUSA.

The second decision, HQ 089578, dated October 8, 1991, involved a cardigan-style upper-body garment with a lightweight fabric, a deep v-neck full-front opening with a double breasted, four button closure, long sleeves with rib knit cuffs, a pronounced rib knit waistband and a partial rib knit neckline. It was determined that the garment was not a suit-type jacket because it lacked "tailoring" as defined by the Textile and Apparel Category Guidelines, (Guidelines), C.I.E. 13/88, dated November 23, 1988. It was also noted that features such as the partial rib knit waistband and cuffs were more generally associated with sweaters or similar apparel, than with suit-type jackets. The garments were classified within heading 6110, HTSUSA.

The samples described in the above referenced rulings are considerably different than the garments now under review. In those rulings, both samples featured finely knit cardigans with deep V-neck fronts, comparable, except for the fabric stitch count, to "athletic" or "letter" sweaters. As defined by Calasibetta, op.cit.supra, page 211, these particular sweaters were formerly worn by varsity sports team members in high schools and colleges and are now copied for general sportswear. The sweaters that were the subject of those rulings were properly classified as sweaters and similar articles under heading 6110, HTSUSA.

The boiled wool jackets presently at issue neither resemble in significant features nor in characteristics the garments which were the subject of the prior cited rulings. The fabric on the boiled wool jackets is specially constructed and processed to produce unique material for the successors of the Austrian loden coats and jackets. This fabric purposefully lacks the horizontal elasticity normally associated with sweaters or sweater like garments. Additionally, the boiled wool jackets lack those key features characteristic of the sweater-like garments in the rulings; namely, rib knit waistband, neck and cuffs, and deep V- neck fronts. By contrast, the three boiled wool jackets each have a closure that extends to the top of the neck and their fabric ends are finished with knit capping or decorative stitching.

You further contend that the boiled wool jackets cannot be suit-type jackets because they are not "tailored". In support of this claim you state that the sample garments drape loosely on the wearer's body and are oversized and bulky, lacking any form fitting features. Though we agree that the sample garments do not fit close to the wearer's body and lack the princess seams and extra panels found on the traditional Austrian loden jackets, we believe that the samples under review are meant to be an imitation of those classic jackets, in that they replicate the look of dressy, coordinated jackets which copy the special fabric of the garments but not their close fitting look.

The Guidelines in the Forward, state in part:

These guidelines do not purport to take into account every possible fabric, construction, and styling combination, since, in wearing apparel especially, each season brings new styles... As such, these guidelines are intended as indications of the types of construction and styling most likely to be encountered. Certain types of garments are so clearly related in use, though, that the corresponding category designations seem to overlap. In such situations it should be remembered that the guidelines are to be used as an aid in determining the commercial designation and, hence, the classification of an article.

The Guidelines define "tailoring" as:

The shaping of a fabric into a garment so as to neatly fit the contours of the body by means of cutting, seaming and finishing. Fabrics with a high degree of elasticity, such as some sweater knits, are capable of shaping themselves to the contours of the body without additional work. Garments made from such fabrics requiring minimal cutting and sweing are not considered to be "tailored."

In actual application, "tailoring" may have a broader meaning than that suggested by the Guidelines. The proper application of the Guidelines was discussed in HQ 088077, dated October 25, 1990, regarding the term "midthigh". That ruling stated:

It should be borne in in mind that the guidelines are just that, guides to ascertaining the common or commercial designation of a textile article. C.I.E. 13/88 is not an immutable document. It must be applied in a reasonably prudent manner in order for the results obtained from its application to be meaningful.

We realize that the above liberalizes to a small degree the description of sweaters contained in C.I.E. 13/88. However, while adhering rigidly to a description in C.I.E. 13/88 may promote uniformity of classification, which is extremely desirable, it may also, on occasion, result in a garment being misclassified. As stated above, C.I.E. 13/88 is merely a guide to enable Customs to determine the common and commercial identity of a garment and to classify it accordingly.

As is stated in the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (1985), p. 360, "tailoring is just a refinement of standard sewing procedures, aimed at building permanent shape into the garment." These procedures may vary from basic, simply sewing edges and pressing them down, to complex construction techniques involving adding darts, princess seams and extra panels.

In George Linton's The Modern Textile and Apparel Dictionary, p. 567, the concept of a tailored garment is broken down into two separate aspects- tailored styling and tailored workmanship. The former refers to apparel that is form fitting, with basic style lines used in men's business suits. The latter refers to the precision and finish of the seams and the stitching. Technical considerations such as the spacing and the size of the stitches, the finishing of the seams so that no raw edges show and the pressing of the seams to insure a smooth silhouette, are the main considerations here. In summary, the dictionary states that garments may be tailored relative to style, but if there are exposed edges, these articles are not considered tailored relative to workmanship. Inversely, a garment may be tailored relative to workmanship but not to styling.

As such, we believe that the sample garments are "tailored" within the more general meaning of the term expressed in the sewing book and in Geoege Linton's dictionary. The garments possess both styling and workmanship in that they are professionally sewn and finished and have the basic fashion lines of a woman's box-type jacket. We are also of the opinion that the relatively rigid boiled wool fabric gives the jacket the "look" of a more tailored garment. To limit the terms "tailored" to mere form-fitting apparel, is contrary to the common commercial understanding of the word. The sample garments are complex in construction, even though they are not "form- fitting". Unlike sweaters, which are more basic garments, the jackets are styled and constructed with skill. They thus meet the criteria for tailored garments.

III. The Boiled Wool Garments are Principally Used as Sweaters

Much emphasis is placed upon the court's decision in Pollak Import Export Corp. v. United States, Slip. Op. 92-12 (February 14, 1992), which determined that the boiled wool jackets were not outerwear coats. That case however, was decided under the previous tariff, the Tariff Schedules of the United States, TSUS. At that time the TSUS only allowed a limited classification choice between "coats" or "other" for the statutory breakout at the five digit level. In an attempt to classify the garments, the court determined that the tariff provision for coats was a use provision and that the chief use of imported merchandise was the principal use. As such, the court held that the common meaning of "coat" did not encompass jackets, and that the garments which were the subject of that action were, in fact, jackets. Consequently, the boiled wool garments were given the classification for "other"- the only choice remaining.

Since that time the HTSUSA has replaced the TSUS. Contemporaneously, several specific headings and statutory breakouts were added; among them, those addressing suit-type jackets and blazers. These provisions are pertinent to the classification of the boiled wool jackets under review.

It is Customs position that all three styles submitted are classified in heading 6104, HTSUSA, under women's suit-type jackets, and that NYRL 870685 should be modified accordingly to reflect the change in classification from heading 6102, HTSUSA, to 6104, HTSUSA.


The merchandise at issue, Styles XK9692W, XK9780W and XK9765W, are women's boiled wool, knit jackets and are classified in subheading 6104.31.00, HTSUSA, the provision for women's suit- type jackets and blazers: of wool or fine animal hair. Style Xk9692W, the subject of NYRL 870685 should be modified and reclassified from subheading 6102.10.00, HTSUSA to subheading 6104.31.00, HTSUSA. The applicable rate of duty is 68.3 cents per kilogram plus 20 percent ad valorem. The textile category is 435.

In order to ensure uniformity in Customs classification of this merchandise and eliminate uncertainty, pursuant to section 177.9(d)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.9(d)(1)), NYRL 870685 is modified to reflect the above classification effective with the date of this letter, If, after your review, you disagree with the legal basis for our decision, we invite you to submit any arguments you might have with respect to this matter. Any submission you wish to made should be received within 30 days of the date of this letter.

This modification is not retroactive. However, NYRL 870685 will not be valid for importations of the subject merchandise arriving in the United States after the date of this notice. We recognize that pending transactions may be adversely affected (i.e. merchandise previously ordered and arriving in the United States subsequent to this modification will be classified accordingly). If it can be shown that your client relied on NYRL 870685 to his detriment, you may apply to this office for relief. However, you should be aware that in some instances involving import restraints, such relief may require separate approvals from other government agencies.

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, we suggest that your client 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 the 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, your client should contact the local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director

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