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HQ 956845

December 22, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 956845 BC


TARIFF NO.: 3926.90.9590; 6211.42.0081; 6211.49.0080

Alan Tencer
OccuMed International Inc.
585-10 North Bicycle Path
Port Jefferson Station, New York 11776

RE: Classification of wristband, headband, hard-hat pad, and vest made of textile materials with plastic polymer beads sewn inside

Dear Mr. Tencer:

This responds to your letters of May 10 and June 14, 1994, which were forwarded to this office from our New York Seaport office. You requested a binding classification ruling for textile articles that incorporate plastic polymer beads. You submitted samples of a wristband, headband, hard-hat pad, and vest for our examination. We have reviewed the matter and our decision follows.


The merchandise at issue are the following articles made of textile materials: wristband, headband, hard-hat pad, and vest. Each article has sewn inside its layers of textile materials plastic polymer beads that are designed to absorb water when soaked in it for a period of time. The soaked beads hold the absorbed water and provide a cooling effect that will last for several hours.

The wristband measures 9 inches by 3 inches. It has a hook and loop closure (similar to a VELCRO brand hook and loop closure). It is made of textile material but not the kind designed for absorbing perspiration. The beads are sewn inside two 9 inch strips created by a stitch running down the center of the interior surface. The headband measures 36 inches by 1 and 1/2 inches. There is nothing about it that identifies it precisely as a headband. It is a piece of textile material that conceivably could be used as a belt for a dress, a decorative accessory for tying around the neck, or as a woman's tie. The beads are sewn inside a 14 inch section at the center of the band.

The hard-hat pad is a round textile pad 7 inches in diameter. The beads are sewn inside six parallel rows created by stitching. Attached at opposite edges of the pad, and only at the edges, is a 10 inch by one inch strip of textile material with VELCRO-like hook and loop material on both surfaces. You indicated that the strip is for attaching the pad to the inside top of a construction worker's hard-hat. The vest is a one piece article of textile material (ramie/cotton fabric) constructed with openings at the front and both sides of the garment. Two straps with hook and loop fasteners provide adjustable closure on each side. The front opening also employs a hook and loop closure. The vest is reversible. A removable front chest pocket can be fastened (by hook and loop) on either side. The polymer beads are sewn between the textile layers of the vest in one inch rows made by horizontal stitching.


What is the proper classification for the articles at issue?


All the articles at issue consist of two materials: the textile materials that make up the article and the plastic polymer beads sewn inside the article to provide the cooling effect. Under GRI 2(b), goods consisting of more than one material or substance are classified according to the principles of GRI 3. Under GRI 3(a), goods are classified in the heading which provides the more (or most) specific description. "However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods . . . , those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods . . ." Thus, the headings applicable to the two materials that in each case comprise the articles at issue - a heading within Chapter 39 that refers to an article of plastic and a heading within Section XI that refers to an article of textile materials - must be considered equally specific. Since classification cannot be accomplished by this rule of specificity, consideration must next be given to classification under GRI 3(b). Under GRI 3(b), a good is classified as if it consists entirely of the material from which it derives its essential character:

Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character . . .

With respect to each of the instant articles, the textile component gives it its form and provides its means of performance. The cooling effect of the beads cannot be applied to the body of the wearer without the textile article. It is the wearing of the textile article, as in the case of the wristband, headband, and vest, or the attachment of the textile article to the object worn, as in the case of the hard-hat pad attached to the inside of the hard-hat, that allows the beads to function as intended. Without the made up textile article, the beads cannot be put to their intended use. On the other hand, it is the beads that provide the source of the cooling effect. Thus, articles of the instant kind have a dual aspect: as a textile article, such as a wristband or vest, and as a cooling mechanism.

The decision as to which component imparts essential character to the article depends on an examination of the article and its dual aspects. All such articles will be capable of functioning as a cooling mechanism. This, however, does not mean that in all cases the cooling beads will impart essential character. Where the article also functions as a textile article in the ordinary manner, the cooling mechanism aspect of the article will not be viewed as imparting essential character. Where the textile article does not function in the ordinary manner, and thus appears only to be providing a medium through which the cooling beads are able to perform their intended function, the beads will be viewed as imparting essential character.

For instance, the wristband and the headband at issue are not the ordinary kind of wristband and headband. The ordinary purpose of these articles is to absorb perspiration and keep it from the hands and eyes. Such articles are made of soft and absorbent materials and would be classified as textile articles in an appropriate heading of Section XI, HTSUSA. The instant wristband and headband are not made of such materials, and their purpose is clearly not to provide that function. Thus, it appears that the function of the textile article aspect of these articles is to provide a means by which the cooling beads can function. Their role as textile articles is limited to this purpose. Consequently, the beads will be viewed as imparting essential character. (Note that this wristband is not of the kind designed for protection during athletic contests or for support to strengthen a wrist weakened by injury. Regarding the headbands, see HRL's 954476 (issued October 1, 1993) and 955034 (issued October 5, 1993), where we found that articles similar to the instant headbands were neither scarves nor headband accessories; they were classified as articles of plastic based on the conclusion that the plastic cooling mechanism imparted essential character.)

The hard-hat pad is an unusual article. It is unclear just how it is attached to a hard-hat or any other headwear, but given that it has a VELCRO-like strip, it is conceivable that it could be attached to some materials on the inside of headwear. Also, it could be placed directly on the head before a cap or hat is put on. Given that it is such an unusual article, and no other function for it is readily apparent, we conclude that its function as a textile article is to provide a means by which the cooling beads can function. Thus, the cooling beads will be viewed as imparting essential character.

With respect to the vest, we believe that this article is distinguishable from the above articles for the reason that vests are articles that commonly provide a utilitarian function (as opposed to the more well recognized sartorial function), such as identification and safety. For example, some vests are designed to provide visibility for workers, runners, cyclists, etc., at night (with fluorescent properties) or during the day (with bright reflective colors). Vests designed for identification purposes include police vests and sports vests. There are vests that provide warmth for cold water skindiving. Those designed for safety purposes include water safety/flotation vests. Thus, a particular utilitarian function does not obscure a vest's identity as a garment. That the vest at issue provides a cooling feature does not render its basic function as a vest subordinate. Thus, this article's function as a textile article is within the realm of what is ordinary for vests. Consequently, the beads will not be viewed as imparting essential character to this article.

Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the essential character of the wristbands, headbands, and hard-hat pads is imparted by the polymer beads. These articles are thus classifiable as articles of plastic in heading 3926, HTSUSA. Regarding the vests, essential character is imparted by their textile component. This conclusion is based on the fact that the textile component contributes to the article's function at the same time it predominates in value and quantity of material. In addition, the role the textile component plays in relation to the use of the goods is more prominent since the vest functions in the ordinary manner. Consequently, the vests are classifiable as articles of textile materials in Section XI.


The textile wristbands, headbands, and hard-hat pads at issue, constructed with absorbent plastic polymer beads sewn inside, are classifiable as other articles of plastic in subheading 3926.90.9590, HTSUSA. The applicable duty rate is 5.3% ad valorem. The textile vests at issue, with polymer beads sewn inside, are classifiable, if of cotton, in subheading 6211.42.0081, HTSUSA, as other garments, woman's or girl's: of cotton . . . other. The applicable duty rate is 8.6% ad valorem, and the textile quota designation is 359. If of ramie, they are classifiable in subheading 6211.49.0080, HTSUSA, which provides for other garments, woman's or girl's, of other textile materials, other, vests. The applicable duty rate is 7.8% ad valorem, and the textile quota designation is 859.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories applicable to textile merchandise, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements. 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 renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you 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 available for inspection at your local Customs office.


John Durant, Director

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