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HQ 958122

August 21, 1995

CLA-2 R:C:T 958122 CAB


TARIFF NO.: 6211.31.0040

Robert Persily
Freight Brokers International Inc.
1200 Brunswick Ave.
P.O. Box 960219
Inwood, NY 11096-0219

RE: Classification of men's woven garment; sweater; vest; Heading 6211

Dear Mr. Persily:

This is in response to your inquiry of May 25, 1995, requesting a tariff classification ruling under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), concerning a mens vest. This request is on behalf of your client, J. Crew Group Inc. A sample was submitted for examination.


The sample submitted, Style No. 21915, is a man's sleeveless V neck pullover with a woven wool front with checkered design, and a knit back of 80 percent worsted wool and 20 percent lambswool. The garment also has a full woven lining, and two mock pockets at the waist.


What is the proper tariff classification for the garment at issue?


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

Heading 6211, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, vests. Although classification is proper under Heading 6211, HTSUSA, issues still remain as to whether the garment is classifiable under the subheading for vests or the subheading for other garments since it contains features of both a vest and sweater.

The garment at issue is comprised of a woven wool front and a knit wool back portion. Because the subject garment is made up of woven material and knit material, we will refer to a set of classification guidelines set forth in Headquarters Memorandum 084118, dated April 13, 1989. These guidelines apply when dealing with the classification of garments consisting of two or more different fabrics. Headquarters Memorandum 084118, states, in relevant part:
a. For upper or lower body garments, if one component exceeds 60 percent of the visible surface area, 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 GRI 3(b) or 3(c), as appropriate.

In this case, since the front and back of the garment appear to be of equal surface area, no one component exceeds 60 percent of the visible surface area of the vest. Thus, classification can not be based on the criteria set forth in aforementioned memorandum and GRI 3 is applicable. GRI 3 states the following, in pertinent part:

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However when two or more headings each refer to part only * * * of the materials contained in mixed or composite goods, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

(b) 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, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN), although not legally binding, are the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. The EN VIII to GRI 3(b) states:

The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of the constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

In applying the EN to GRI 3(b), it is apparent that the woven portion makes up the front of the garment. It is the front part of the garment that is instantly visible and is generally the most important feature of a garment. Consequently, it is the woven portion of the subject article that imparts the essential character and determines the tariff classification of the garment at the subheading level.


Based on the foregoing, the subject garment is classifiable in subheading 6211.31.0040, HTSUSA, which provides for men's other woven garments of wool; vests. The applicable rate of duty is 16.5 percent ad valorem and the textile restraint category is 459.

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.

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
Commercial Rulings Division

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