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HQ 954733

December 21, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 954733 SK


TARIFF No.: 6216.00.0800

District Director
U.S. Customs Service
Los Angeles District
300 S. Ferry Street
Room 1001
Terminal Island, CA 90731

RE: Response to request for Internal Advice; classification of gloves; gloves specially designed for use in sports of subheading 6216.00.08, HTSUSA v. other textile gloves of subheading 6216.00.32, HTSUSA; Stonewall Trading Company v. United States, 64 Cust. Ct. 482, C.D. 4023 (1970); reinforcement across middle of glove where knuckles bend is a prerequisite; reinforcement need not be of vinyl; HRL 082336 (11/21/88);

Dear Sir:

This ruling is in response to a request for internal advice initiated by the law firm of Riggle and Craven on behalf of their client, Whitewater Glove Company. At issue is the proper classification of textile gloves. A sample was sent to this office for examination.


The glove at issue, referenced style number K-16, is a black, full-fingered glove with fourchettes. The outer shell of the glove is made from a 65 percent polyester/ 35 percent cotton weave and has approximately 1 millimeter of foam bonded to the inner surface. Underneath the shell is a layer of foam measuring approximately 1 centimeter, a "Gore-Tex" membrane, a layer of 200 gram "Thinsulate," and a 100 percent nylon inner lining. A textile-backed polyurethane knuckle protector is sewn between the outer shell and the foam lining [In a fax from the Chinese manufacturer to Whitewater the material is described as "... a kind of P.U. but very thin]. Over the outer shell, on the interior thumb surface and on half of the palm, is sewn a split-suede leather reinforcement. The gloves have a fully elasticized wrist and a knit cuff of man-made fibers with split-suede strengthening on the inner side. The knit wrist is partially covered by a 1- 1/2 inch gauntlet. Attached at the wrist is a plastic hook and clasp.


Whether style K-16 is classifiable as a glove specially designed for use in sports, or as an other textile glove?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is in accordance with 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.

Our initial inquiry is whether the submitted gloves have been designed for use in skiing and whether they are properly classifiable as "other gloves ... especially designed for use in sports, including ski[ing]", under heading 6216, HTSUSA. Several characteristics deemed indicative of such design were enumerated in Stonewall Trading Company v. United States, 64 Cust. Ct. 482, C.D. 4023 (1970). In Stonewall, the court held that certain vinyl gloves were classifiable as "other ski equipment" in item 734.97, TSUS, (now provided for in various HTS subheadings) because the gloves were deemed to have been specially designed for use as ski gloves by exhibiting the following:

1) A hook and clasp to hold the gloves together;

2) An extra piece of vinyl stitched along the thumb to meet the stress caused by the flexing of the knuckles when the skier grasps the ski pole;

3) An extra piece of vinyl with padding reinforcement and inside stitching which is securely stitched across the middle of the glove where the knuckles bend and cause stress;

4) Cuffs with an elastic gauntlet to hold the gloves firm around the wrist so as to be waterproof and to keep it securely on the hand.

These criteria are not prerequisites mandated of all ski gloves; rather, they provide a guideline intended to aid in determining whether certain gloves have been designed for use in skiing. These criteria are neither mandatory, nor all-inclusive, and a case by case analysis will be used by Customs in determining whether a glove's design merits classification as a ski glove under heading 6216, HTSUSA. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 082336, dated November 21, 1988, in which Customs noted, "[t]he fact that the court found certain gloves to be classifiable as other ski equipment cannot be construed as either a limitation or as a blanket approval for any gloves that possess such [the same] features." See also HRL 088374, dated June 24, 1991, in which this office held that "the factors cited in Stonewall demonstrate prima facie that the subject merchandise is specially designed for skiing; failure of a glove to meet all of the Stonewall criteria will not prevent its classification as a ski glove, nor will satisfaction of the criteria automatically dictate classification as a ski glove." We similarly noted in HRL 952393, dated August 28, 1992, that the Stonewall Court "created a rebuttable presumption that a glove possessing all four of the enumerated characteristics has been designed as a ski glove. Customs may consider other factors which effectively refute this presumption. Such factors may include whether the gloves are functionally practicable for use in skiing, whether the gloves appear suitable for use in skiing, and whether the gloves are marketed as ski gloves. While a glove's appearance, and the manner in which it is marketed, are certainly indicators of classification, it is the glove's suitability for use in skiing that is determinative of whether classification as a ski glove is proper. Even if the Stonewall characteristics have been met, a glove is not classifiable as a ski glove if it is not functionally practicable for use as such." As is apparent from the above-cited rulings, Customs has consistently held that even if a glove were to possess all the features enumerated in Stonewall, it would not definitively serve to classify the glove as a ski glove.

The gloves at issue possess the following features which satisfy the Stonewall criteria set forth above: a hook and clasp to hold the gloves together; internal sewn-in reinforcement over the knuckle area; external reinforcement in the thumb and palm area; and elasticized wrists with knit cuffs that are partially covered by gauntlets. Style K-16 also possesses a Gore-tex lining. The pamphlet that will accompany each pair of gloves at the point of sale explains that the Gore-Tex insert protects the wearer not only from outside rain and snow, but also from the natural moisture vapor produced by an active wearer. The gloves are also made with Thinsulate which significantly enhances the gloves' heat retention capabilities and is a great aid to sports enthusiasts who are outside for extended periods of time.

Examination of style K-16 yields the finding that it squarely meets the Stonewall criteria and appears to have been specially designed for use in sports, including skiing. This is evidenced not only by the presence of the Stonewall features, but also by the gloves' incorporation of such components as Gore-Tex and Thinsulate, the fully elasticized wrist with knit cuff and partial gauntlet which effectively keeps moisture out, the use of split- suede palm reinforcement which enables a more secure grip than does plastic and the overall sturdy appearance and sound workmanship evidenced by the gloves. Accordingly, classification is proper under subheading 6216.00.0800, HTSUSA, which provides for, inter alia, ski gloves.
We note that although the knuckle reinforcement used in these gloves is not made of vinyl, this fact will not serve to preclude classification as a ski glove under heading 6216, HTSUSA. The Stonewall Court may have specifically stated that ski gloves should possess "an extra piece of colored vinyl ... where the knuckles bend and cause stress," but a literal interpretation of this criterion is not necessary and would lead to an unnecessarily restrictive classification policy. In Stonewall, the court described the reinforcement as "vinyl", but the entire glove then at issue was vinyl. The reinforcement was only coincidentally of the same material as the glove. A fair interpretation of the court's intent with regard to knuckle reinforcement in Stonewall would require only that the reinforcement be of a material that provides the requisite amount of strength, support and protection mandated of a glove specially designed for use in skiing.


Style K-16 is classifiable under subheading 6216.00.0800, HTSUSA, which provides for "[G]loves, mittens and mitts: impregnated, coated or covered with plastics or rubber: ther: of man-made fibers: other gloves, mittens and mitts, all the foregoing specially designed for use in sports, including ski and snowmobile gloves, mittens and mitts," dutiable at a rate of 5.5 percent ad valorem. There is no textile quota category applicable to these goods at this time.


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