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HQ 956514

December 15, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 956514 SK


TARIFF NO.: 6110.20.2035

B.S. Yeung
Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office
1150 18th Street, N.W., ste. 475
Washington, D.C. 20036

RE: Affirmation of NYRL 894692 (3/10/94); classification of a women's 100% cotton sleeveless upper body garment; woven cotton back panel; two-ply front panel with woven cotton base and crocheted knit exterior; crocheted fabric imparts essential character; HRL 084118 (4/13/89); Statistical Note 3 to Chapter 61, HTSUSA; garment must be known as a sweater to be classifiable as such; 6110.20.2035.

Dear Mr. Yeung:

This is in reply to your letter of May 24, 1994, on behalf of Spiegel, Inc., in which you request a binding classification ruling for a women's upper body garment referenced style number T3827. This style was previously classified in New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 894692, which was issued to Spiegel, Inc. on March 10, 1994. In NYRL 894692, Customs determined that the subject garment was properly classifiable under subheading 6110.20.2035, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), which provides for, inter alia, other women's crocheted cotton vests. Although no mention of this ruling was made in your inquiry to this office, we assume that you are requesting a reconsideration of the classification set forth in NYRL 894692.

A sample of the subject garment was provided to Customs for examination and will be returned to you under separate cover.


Style T3827 is a women's 100 percent cotton sleeveless upper body garment that is constructed from two textile fabrics: woven cotton and openwork crocheted cotton. The garment has a 12-button full front closure and a V-neck. The garment's front two sections consist of two plies of fabric. The outer ply is crocheted and the inner ply is woven. The plied fabric is sewn together to make a single fabric. The openwork crocheted fabric forms the outer surface of the front of the garment except for the woven placket. The back of the garment consists entirely of woven fabric. The garment has oversized armholes and a scalloped, decorative bottom hem on the front panels which is created by approximately four inches of crocheted fabric that extends below the woven bottom ply.


Whether style number T3827 is classifiable as a sweater of heading 6110, HTSUSA, by virtue of the fact that it possesses fewer than nine stitches per two centimeters measured in the horizontal direction?


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, taken in order. Merchandise that cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 is to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRI's.

In situations where a garment is made from two or more different types of fabric, Customs has established criteria which aid in the classification of such articles. In this office's memorandum to the Area Director of the New York Seaport, File #084118, dated April 13, 1989, we determined that where one component of an upper body garment exceeds 60 percent of the visible surface area of the garment, that component will determine the classification of the garment unless the other component:

(1) forms the entire front of the garment; or

(2) provides a visual and significant decorative effect (e.g., a substantial amount of lace); or

(3) is over 50 percent by weight of the garment; or

(4) is valued at more than 10 times the primary component.

If no component comprises 60 percent of the visible surface area, or if any of the above four listed conditions are present, classification will be according to General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 3(b) or 3(c), as appropriate.

In the instant case, Customs believes that neither the crocheted fabric, nor the woven fabric, comprises 60 percent of the visible surface area of style number T3827. However, inasmuch as the crocheted component forms nearly the entire front of the garment and provides a visual and significant decorative effect, this office is of the opinion that it imparts the essential character to style T3827and the garment is classifiable as a crocheted article of clothing.

The determinative issue is whether the subject garment is classifiable as a sweater or as a non-sweater vest within heading 6110, HTSUSA, which provides for "[S]weaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats (vests) and similar articles, knitted or crocheted." In your submission to this office you contend that as the fabric has a stitch count of three stitches per two centimeters, measured in the horizontal direction, style T3827 is classifiable as a crocheted sweater under subheading 6110.20.2020, HTSUSA, with an attendant textile quota category of 345. This is the category shown on the garment's accompanying visa from Hong Kong. In NYRL 894692, however, style number T3827 was classified under subheading 6110.20.2035, HTSUSA, which provides for other women's crocheted cotton vests (other than sweater vests) with an attendant textile quota category of 359.

Statistical Note 3 to Chapter 61, HTSUSA, states:

"[F]or purposes of this chapter, statistical provisions for sweaters include garments ... the outer surfaces of which are constructed essentially with 9 or fewer stitches per 2 centimeters measured in the horizontal direction, and garments, known as sweaters, where, due to their construction, the stitches on the outer surface cannot be counted in the horizontal direction." [emphasis added]

The standard stitch count measurement for sweaters, set forth supra, is intended for use on garments made from weft knit fabric. In both hand and machine sweater knitting, the weft system is the normal construction technique for all sweaters or garments that are considered similar to sweaters (i.e., garments that would
otherwise qualify as sweaters except that their stitch count is more than nine stitches per two centimeters measured in the horizontal direction). In The Guide to the Manufacture of Sweaters, Knit Shirts and Swimwear, by Charles Reichman, editor, National Knitted Outerwear Association, 1963, at pages 47-57, the predominant types of sweater-strip knitting machines are described. Mr. Reichman notes that "[T]hese sweater-strip machine classes in turn break down into two primary machine groupings capable of producing the basic stitch constructions in weft knitting." [emphasis added] The standard stitch count measurement set forth in Statistical Note 3 pertains to sweaters. According to the above-cited expert treatise on the manufacture of sweaters, these garments are uniformly produced by means of weft knitting. A crocheted fabric is manufactured in a fundamentally different manner and is not formed by a weft knitting process. It follows, therefore, that the standard stitch count measurement applicable to sweaters is not applicable to garments that are not of weft knit (i.e., sweater) fabrications, and therefore the stitches on style T3827 cannot be counted.

Lastly, we note that Statistical Note 3 to Chapter 61, HTSUSA, permits classification of certain garments as sweaters even if the stitches on the outer surface cannot be counted. This language was added to the original text in order to include in the provision for sweaters those garments which are constructed from openwork, decorative patterns. We further note, however, that the language in Statistical Note 3 also requires that garments must be "known as sweaters" in order to qualify for classification in the tariff statistical provision for sweaters. It is this office's opinion that style number T3827 is not known in the trade and commerce of the United States as a sweater, but rather as a vest. We base this determination on the garment's unusual construction which includes a woven fabric back joined to the two-ply front. Style T3827 creates the visual impression of a vest and because it is to be classified on the basis of its crocheted component, it fails to be classifiable as a sweater vest for reasons set forth supra.


NYRL 894692 is affirmed.

Classification of style number T3827 is proper under subheading 6110.20.2035, HTSUSA, which provides for, inter alia, other women's crocheted cotton vests, other than sweater vests, dutiable at a rate of 20.7 percent ad valorem.

The applicable textile quota category 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 Spiegel, Inc. 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 a local Customs office.

Due to the nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, Spiegel, Inc. should contact its local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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