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HQ 953771

July 7, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 953771 NLP


TARIFF NO.: 6110.20.2035

Mr. Tommy Lai, Second Secretary
Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office
British Embassy
1150 18th Street, N.W.
Suite 475
Washington, D.C. 20036

RE: Tariff classification of cotton knit vests vs. blouses; headings 6106 and 6110; Legal Note 4 to Chapter 61; Explanatory Note to heading 6106; Textile Category Guidelines; DD 881658

Dear Mr. Lai:

This is in response to your letter dated March 30, 1993, concerning the tariff classification of women's knit garments imported by the Jones Apparel Group, Inc, and entered at JFK Airport. A sample of the merchandise at issue was provided for our examination.


The sample, style 81878, is a women's knit, sleeveless garment that consists of 100% cotton fibers. The garment has a full-front opening with six buttoned closures and a V-shaped neckline. It is loose-fitting and hangs loosely on the wearer. It has a straight bottom and does not possess a rib-knit waistband. The fabric of the garment consists of an all-over 1 x 1 rib knit fabric, and the stitch count measures 24 stitches per two centimeters horizontally, while the vertical stitch count is nine stitches per linear centimeter.

It is your position that since the size of the armholes and the V-shaped neckline measure only 7 inches in vertical length, "the garment should be decent enough to be worn alone in public." In addition, the absence of any jacket feature suggest that the garment is unlikely to be worn over other garments. Therefore, the garment should be classified as a blouse in subheading 6106.10.0010, HTSUS, with the applicable textile category being 338/339.


Is the subject garment classified as a blouse in heading 6106, HTSUS, or as a vest in heading 6110, HTSUS?


The classification of goods under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) 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. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied, taken in order.

Heading 6106, HTSUS, provides for "[w]omen's or girls' blouses and shirts, knitted or crocheted." Legal Note 4 to Chapter 61, HTSUS, provides that this heading does not cover:

...garments with pockets below the waist, with a ribbed waistband or other means of tightening at the bottom of the garment, or garments having an average of less than 10 stitches per linear centimeter in each direction counted on an area measuring at least 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters....

In understanding the language of the HTS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) may be utilized. The ENs, although not legally binding, comprise the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. The ENs to heading 6106 state, on page 837, that:

Garments not regarded as women's or girls's blouses, shirts or shirt-blouses and excluded from this heading in accordance with Chapter Note 4 are generally classified as follows:

- ...having an average of less than 10 stitches per linear centimeter; heading 61.02 or 61.10

The Textile Category Guidelines, CIE 13/88, are also used as an aid in classifying textile articles. They offer guidance in determining the commercial designation of articles. In regard to women's knit blouses, the Guidelines state that:

Garments included in this category are of the type which are normally worn against the body or over underwear for appearance in public. They possess the following attributes:

7) Stitch count:

(a) Included in this category are:

(1) Blouses and shirts of headings 6105 and 6106, whether classifiable there or in headings 6103, 6104 or 6112. These garments must have an average of 10 or more stitches per linear centimeter in each direction, counted on an area measuring at least 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters.

As we have stated, while the sample garment does have over 10 stitches per linear centimeter in the horizontal direction, the vertical count is nine stitches per linear centimeter. Therefore, pursuant to Legal Note 4 to Chapter 61, HTSUS, the sample garment is precluded from classification as a shirt or blouse in heading 6106, HTSUS.

Moreover, while the armholes are not excessively revealing and there is no modesty problem to automatically preclude wear of this garment as a blouse, it is our position that this garment is more akin to a vest and is not worn over underwear, but rather over other apparel as a vest. The garment is loose fitting, which indicates it is worn outside pants or skirt. In addition, it would provide the wearer with warmth because of the 1 x 1 rib knit fabric. In appearance and styling, this garment resembles a vest and this style is commonly and commercially known as a vest.

Thus, based on the stitch count and the style of the garment, it is our position that it is classifiable as a vest in subheading 6110.20.2035, HTSUS. In addition, we refer you to DD 881658, dated January 26, 1993, which classified a similar women's garment, also imported by the Jones Apparel Group Inc., as a vest in subheading 6110.20.2035, HTSUS. That garment was a sleeveless woman's vest constructed from 100% cotton rib knit fabric with more than 9 stitches per 2 centimeters measured in the horizontal direction. The garment featured a V-neck, full front opening with a 5 button closure and a straight bottom.


The women's knit vest is classifiable in subheading 6110.20.2035, HTSUS, which provides for "[s]weaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats (vests) and similar articles, knitted or crocheted: [o]f cotton: [o]ther: [o]ther: [v]ests, other than sweater vests: [w]omen's or girls'. The rate of duty is 20.7% ad valorem and the applicable textile category code is 359.

The designated textile and apparel categories may be subdivided into parts. If so, the 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 the importer check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service which is updated weekly and is available for inspection 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 importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director

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