United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1996 HQ Rulings > HQ 957133 - HQ 957503 > HQ 957469

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 957469

November 7, 1995

CLA-2 R:C:T 957469 CMR


TARIFF NO.: 6114.30.3060, 6212.20.0020

Leonard L. Rosenberg, Esq.
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A.
5200 Blue Lagoon Drive
Miami, Fla. 33126-2022

RE: Classification of knit baseball pants and football compression shorts; headings 6114, 6212, 6211

Dear Mr. Rosenberg:

This ruling is in response to your submission of December 19, 1994, on behalf of Bike Athletic Company, requesting Customs reconsider a pre-classification ruling (PC 886860) and a New York Customs ruling (NYRL 882427) issued to your client. The garments which were the subject of these rulings are men's baseball pants and men's compression shorts. Samples were received with your submission. In addition, Customs personnel were given an additional sample when they met with a member of your firm on August 2, 1995, to discuss this case.


In PC 886860 of July 2, 1993, Customs classified eight styles of pants as men's (styles 4106, 4108, 4109, 4126, and 4703) and boys' (styles 3703, 3704, and 3708) knit trousers of synthetic fibers in subheadings 6103.43.1520, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), and 6103.43.1540, HTSUSA, respectively. You claim these pants are baseball pants. As such, you believe they are special articles of apparel used for a specific sport and thus, classifiable in heading 6114, HTSUSA, which provides for knitted or crocheted other garments.

In NYRL 882427 of February 12, 1993, Customs classified three samples, styles 7648 (men's), 7649 (boys') and 7658 (men's), identified as football compression girdles. The garments were described as being of 92 percent nylon and 8 percent spandex knit fabric and were classified as girdles in subheading 6212.20.0020, HTSUSA. You believe these compression shorts, as you refer to them, should be classified as other body- -2-
supporting garments in subheading 6212.90.0030, HTSUSA, or as other men's or boys' knitted garments in subheading 6114.30.3060, HTSUSA.

The submitted baseball pant, style 4703, is made of 100 percent double-knit polyester fabric. The garment is designed to extend to the area of the calf and has elasticized cuffs. An extra layer of fabric is sewn to the inside front of each leg at the knee area. The additional fabric extends from the knee area to about two inches above the leg opening. Known as a "double knee", the fabric is added for abrasion control. The submitted sample is a pull-on style pant and has an elasticized waist with a drawstring and no fly. You indicate that some of the other pants at issue have a tunnel-belt loop waist with a full elastic waistband.

The submitted compression shorts, style 7648, are made of heavy gauge 92 percent nylon/8 percent spandex knit fabric. The shorts measure 14 inches from the elastic waistband to the bottom of the hemmed leg openings. The fabric of the center front and rear panels is oriented to reduce the lateral stretch and thus provide additional support to the body. You assert that the garment is designed for use as a support garment for wear by players of football and other sports needing protective pads. The garment features three internal pockets into which plastic foam pads may be inserted to protect the hips and tailbone. The pads are sold separately from the garment.


Are the baseball pants at issue classifiable as men's or boys' trousers of heading 6103, HTSUSA, as appropriate, or as men's or boys' other knit garments of heading 6114, HTSUSA?

Are the compression shorts at issue classifiable as girdles of heading 6212, HTSUSA, or as other body supporting garments of heading 6212, HTSUSA, or as men's or boys' other knit garments of heading 6114, HTSUSA?


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that "classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to [the remaining GRIs taken in order]."

Heading 6103, HTSUSA, provides for men's or boys' trousers, among other things. The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, the official -3-
interpretation of the tariff at the international level, provide the following in regard to trousers of heading 6103:

"Trousers" means garments which envelop each leg separately, covering the knees and usually reaching down to or below the ankles; these garments usually stop at the waist; the presence of braces does not cause these garments to lose the essential character of trousers.

Heading 6114, HTSUSA, provides for knitted or crocheted other garments. The EN for heading 6114, HTSUSA, provide, in relevant part:

This heading covers knitted or crocheted garments which are not included more specifically in the preceding headings of this Chapter.

The heading includes, inter alia:

(5) Special articles of apparel used for certain sports or for dancing or gymnastics (e.g., fencing clothing, jockeys' silks, ballet skirts, leotards).

Customs has taken the view that the headings for trousers and shorts cover conventional apparel and not apparel which is specialized for a specific, narrow purpose and limited in use to that purpose as evidenced by the construction of the garment, e.g., presence of permanently sewn-in protective padding. See, HRL 086973 of April 30, 1990. Thus, if the baseball pants at issue are found to be specialized for the limited use of wearing while playing baseball, then they are classifiable in heading 6114, HTSUS, and not heading 6103, HTSUS.

In HRL 086973 of April 30, 1990, Customs classified ice hockey pants in heading 6211, HTSUS, which provides for, among other things, men's or boys' other garments. In discussing the scope of heading 6211 as it applies to "special articles of apparel used for certain sports", this office stated:

* * * Customs also considers that the term "certain" limits the scope of the heading to those articles of sporting apparel which, protective or otherwise, are as a general matter, worn only while engaging in the activity for which they were designed. Thus, while football pants or baseball knickers might be classifiable in heading 6211, such articles as tennis or rugby shorts, which are often worn off the court or playing field, would most likely not be so classifiable. [emphasis added.]

In determining if a particular garment is classifiable as a special article of sports apparel classifiable in heading 6211 or, as in this case, heading 6114, Customs has looked to whether the garment is designed to be worn while engaged in a specific sport as illustrated by its ability to serve a particular function for that sport, such as, give additional protection to the wearer, and its recognized uniqueness to that sport. Finally, and crucially, Customs also looks to whether the garment would be worn only while participating in the sport for which it is designed and would not ordinarily be worn at any other time. See, HRL 951640 of July 16, 1992 (classification of ice hockey officials' pants); HRL 086973 of April 30, 1990 (classification of ice hockey pants); and HRL 956289 of June 20, 1994 (revocation of HRL 084622 of June 21, 1989; soccer goalie protective shorts with padding properly classified in heading 6211, HTSUS).

With these criteria in mind, we will discuss the specific baseball pants at issue. The garments have a shortened length and silhouette generally associated with baseball pants. However, length and silhouette are insufficient bases for ruling these pants are "special articles of sports apparel". The same length and silhouette can be found in garments known as knickers and worn for various reasons, including fashion.

The attribute which may distinguish the pants at issue is the "double knee", i.e, the additional layer of fabric sewn to the inside of the pants' legs at the knee area. This feature is present to give additional abrasion control and protection to a ball player when sliding into a base. The presence of this feature, in addition to the type of fabric and the styling of the garment, strengthens the argument that the pants are designed specifically for use while playing baseball. Although this factor is a consideration, it alone is not determinative of the garment's classification.

Another factor to consider, and one which also serves to bolster the argument these pants are designed for use only while playing baseball and would not normally be worn at any other time, is the manner in which the garment is marketed and sold. These pants are sold through sporting goods stores and the sporting goods departments of larger retail chains. The pants are marketed and commercially known as baseball pants. Recognizing that consumers generally use a product in the manner in which it is marketed, and considering the fabric, design and construction of the garment, it is unlikely these pants will be worn for any purpose other than playing baseball.

Taking all the factors into consideration, Customs agrees the baseball pants at issue are designed to give added protection to ball players while engaged in the sport of baseball, and the garment is normally worn only while engaged in that sport. -5-

Therefore, we agree the baseball pants at issue are special articles of sports apparel classifiable in heading 6114. HTSUS.

Heading 6212, HTSUSA, provides for, among other things, girdles and similar articles, whether or not knitted or crocheted. The EN for heading 6212 states, in relevant part:

This heading covers articles of a kind designed for wear as body-supporting garments or as supports for certain other articles of apparel, and parts thereof. These articles may be made of any textile material including knitted or crocheted fabrics (whether or not elastic).

The heading includes, inter alia:

(2) Girdles and panty-girdles.

All of the above articles may be furnished with trimmings of various kinds (ribbons, lace, etc.), and may incorporate fittings and accessories of non-textile materials (e.g., metal, rubber, plastics or leather).

You submit that Customs incorrectly classified the compression shorts at issue as girdles in heading 6212, HTSUSA, based on your belief that the compression shorts do not fall within the common meaning of girdles; the garments are "more than" girdles; and if not classified as other body-supporting garments of heading 6212, HTSUSA, the garments should be classified as special articles of sports apparel in heading 6114, HTSUSA, which provides for knitted or crocheted other garments.

In support of your first argument that the garments do not fall within the common meaning of girdles, you aver that girdles are worn only by women. To support this claim, you cite the following definitions:

3. a woman's elasticized undergarment for supporting or molding the waist and hips. From Webster's New World Dictionary (1988 ed.)

1. Undergarment worn by women and girls, designed to mold lower torso and sometimes legs; may be flexible two-way stretch or one-way stretch elastic with non-stretchable fabric panels; hip to ankle-length, with or without garters. From Essential Terms of Fashion by Charlotte Mankey Calasibetta (1986), at page 66. -6-

While you are correct that the two cited definitions refer to girdles as women's undergarments, Customs must point out the following definitions from other sources:

1. Flexible, light-weight shaped corset, made partly or entirely of elastic. Worn to confine figure, especially through hip line. From The Fashion Dictionary, by Mary Brooks Picken (1973), at page 163.

2. An elasticized flexible undergarment worn over the hips and waist. From Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary, (1984), at page 531.

Neither of these definitions identify girdles as gender specific. All of the definitions, however, indicate that girdles are undergarments. Customs believes that currently girdles are commonly understood to be undergarments which provide support and hold in the body along the lower torso, specifically including the waist and hips.

In furtherance of your argument that girdles are worn only by women, you infer that there was an assumption under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), the predecessor to the HTSUSA, that men do not wear girdles. You base this inference on the language of the superior heading to item 376.24 which reads:

Corsets, girdles, brassieres, and similar body-supporting garments for women and girls; body-supporting garments for men and boys; all the foregoing of any materials:

Customs does not agree that failure to list girdles as garments for men and boys means it must only be for women and girls. The heading identifies specific garments for women and girls', but does not identify any specific garments for men and boys.

In addition, the TSUS has been replaced with the HTSUS and the applicable heading for support garments is worded quite differently. Nowhere in heading 6212 or its subheadings do we find divisions based upon gender.

Customs submits men do wear girdles; they simply call them something else, such as compression shorts. To support our view, we refer to four articles from 1990 and one especially pertinent article from 1988.

An article appearing in the October 24, 1990, Chicago Tribune sports section, entitled, "Here's a good way to get men under control", written by Libby Morse, discussed a product identified as "Manshape." In the article, Manshape was called

"the girdle for men." The article disclosed that "Manshape's control is similar to that provided by Playtex's 'I Can't Believe It's a Girdle.'"

In the sports section of the August 8, 1990, USA Today, we found:

TIGHTEN UP: The hottest sports gear for men includes girdles-now called compression shorts. These thigh-squeezers are now part of the official uniform in the Major Soccer League. [emphasis added.]

In that same issue, we also found an article entitled, "Not grandma's girdle." Excerpts from the article include:

Today's athlete doesn't need to justify wearing a girdle. Popularized by pro basketball stars and tennis flash Andre Agassi, the men's girdle-now called compression shorts- is one of the hottest items of sports clothing. Now segment leader Bike is taking the girdle one step further: It's making a specialized compression short for soccer players. [emphasis added.]

In the February 12, 1990, issue of Sports Illustrated, an article by Penny Ward Moser entitled, "A Long Stretch of the Imagination," discussed the discovery of lycra. In addressing the possibility of panty hose for men, the writer pointed out that "[j]ust as the increasingly popular men's girdles are called low-rise stretch briefs or compressions shorts, Lycra hose for men would probably be macho-ized into something like 'Power Skin' or 'DynoTights.'" [emphasis added.]

Lastly, but most pertinent to this discussion, Customs found another article by Penny Ward Moser, entitled, "Ugh! Those Unsightly Lines", from the November 7, 1988, Sports Illustrated. In this article, Bike Athletic Company's vice-president of sales and marketing and jockstrap spokesman Randy Black was quoted as saying:

More and more players are wearing girdles over their jocks. It sounds kind of funny. Women today don't wear girdles much, but more and more men do. The guys are very excited about them. A few years ago, we came out with a girdle that will hold football pads. It protects the groin, the hams--you might have seen pictures recently of football and basketball players with their girdles hanging out. [emphasis added.] -8-

In 1988, a representative of Bike Athletic clearly viewed men's compression shorts, such as the submitted sample, as men's girdles; but now, your client believes that Customs was incorrect in classifying the subject men's compression shorts as girdles.

Customs received the "Bike Football '94" catalogue and the "Bike Fall '95 Program" catalogue as part of your submission in this case. Both catalogues advertise style 7648 which is the submitted sample garment. The catalogues also advertise styles 7649 and 7658 which were classified in NYRL 882427. The descriptions for each of the individual items is the same in the 1994 and 1995 catalogues. Style 7658 is the "youth" version of style 7648. Style 7648 is identified in the 1995 catalogue as a "BIKE COMPRESSION Hip Pocket Girdle Shell Brief" and described as follows:

Heavy-gauge, double-covered Nylon/LYCRA spandex. Designed as multi-purpose brief version of #7649. Players wearing #7648 without pads may need to size down. Pads not included. Color: WH. Sizes: S-XL. [emphasis added.]

Style 7649 is identified in the same catalogue as a "BIKE COMPRESSION Hip/Thigh Pocket Girdle Shell" and described as:

Heavy-gauge, double-covered Nylon/LYCRA spandex. Designed as a multi-purpose support girdle for football and other sports needing protective pads. Pockets are provided for hip and thigh pads to keep pads firmly in place in proper hitting position. Pads not included. Color: WH. Sizes: S-XL. [emphasis added.]

In discussing the BIKE COMPRESSION garments in general, the catalogue contains a discussion in which the garments are described as support shorts which were "[o]riginally developed as a football protective girdle to keep hip and thigh pads in the proper hitting position...." The garments are further described as follows:

BIKE's unique two-way knit construction offers steady, uniform pressure and support to the hamstring, groin, abdomen and quadricep muscle groups during the twisting, stretching and pivoting movements, brought about during a game or strenuous exercise program. BIKE COMPRESSION improves circulation and stamina, helps prevent edema after a blow or injury, acts like a second skin to prevent abrasions, and restricts muscle movement in injured muscle groups. Wearing BIKE COMPRESSION also fights fatigue and increases stamina. [emphasis added.]

The catalogues appear to stress the support feature of the compression garments. Additionally, from the presentation in the -9-
catalogue and based upon an examination of the submitted samples, it is clear these garments are undergarments to be worn under other clothing.

You argue that because the compression shorts contain pockets for the insertion of pads to protect against injury they fall outside the common meaning of a girdle or that they are "more than" girdles. In a meeting on August 2, 1995, held at Customs with a member of your firm, Nestle Refrigerated Food Co. v. United States, Slip Op. 94-118, (Ct. Intl. Trade, decided July 20, 1994) and Mitsubishi Electronics America, Inc. v. United States, Slip Op. 95-47, (Ct. Intl Trade, decided March 16, 1995) were cited as support for application of the "more than" doctrine in the classification of the compression shorts at issue. It is Customs' position that the "more than" doctrine is a concept of classification which was utilized under the previous tariff, the Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated, but which is no longer applicable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated.

Returning to the matter of the compression shorts and the pads, we note that the compression shorts and the pads are separate articles. They are sold separately and not required to be used together. You argue that because the compression shorts have pockets for the pads that makes the shorts other than a girdle because when the pads are inserted into them, the compression shorts then provide a protective function in addition to their support function. In classifying the compression shorts, Customs must classify these garments in their condition at the time of importation. In addition, in this case, it would appear the garments are sold in the same condition in which they are imported, i.e., without pads. Without pads, the compression shorts are girdles. The compression shorts act to hold in the body and give support. The presence of the pockets in the compression shorts does not change the support function of the garments. The pockets merely allow for the insertion of pads. This is not unlike a brassiere which provides support and has pockets inside the cups to allow for the optional insertion of pads to further enhance the figure. The optional feature does not deprive the good of its primary feature which is support, nor does it so change the character of the garment as to remove it from classification as a support garment, i.e., as a girdle.

Based upon the above discussion, Customs believes these compression shorts clearly fall within the common meaning of girdles. The cited articles unquestionably show that the marketplace recognizes compression shorts such as the ones at issue as men's girdles. As most of the cited articles refer to use of the compression shorts by athletes, we find little support for your argument that girdles are not worn while participating in sports. -10-

In regard to classification in heading 6114, HTSUSA, as an other garment, the EN for heading 6114 clearly state the heading covers knitted or crocheted garments which are not included more specifically in the preceding headings of the Chapter. You submit that the compression shorts should be classified in heading 6114 because they are special articles of sports apparel. Customs rejects this argument. In discussing this heading earlier, we stated that in determining if a particular garment is classifiable as a special article of sports apparel, Customs looks to whether the garment is designed to be worn while engaged in a specific sport as illustrated by its ability to serve a particular function for that sport and whether the garment would be worn only while participating in the sport for which it is designed and would not ordinarily be worn at any other time. These compression shorts are held out as "multi-purpose" garments. They are not limited in use to the sport of football or to any sport for that matter. Therefore, Customs submits the compression shorts at issue are not specialized articles of apparel for sports. The compression shorts are more specifically provided for as girdles in heading 6212, HTSUSA.


The baseball pants at issue, with the "double knee", men's styles 106, 4108, 4109, 4126, and 4703 and boys' styles 3703, 3704, and 3708, are classified as other garments in subheading 6114.30.3060, HTSUSA, textile category 659, dutiable at 16 percent ad valorem. PC 886860 of July 2, 1993, is hereby modified.

NYRL 882427 is affirmed. The men's and boys' compression shorts are classifiable as girdles of man-made fibers in subheading 6212.20.0020, HTSUSA, textile category 649, dutiable at 24.5 percent ad valorem.

The designated textile and apparel category 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 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 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
Tariff Classification Appeals Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: