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HQ 964261

July 7, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 964261 mbg


TARIFF NO.: 6117.10.1000

Ms. Karen Wilder
Esprit de Corp.
900 Minnesota St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

RE: Tariff Classification of Knitted Capelet Accessory Made in China; Modification of NY F84112

Dear Ms. Wilder:

On June 22, 2000, Customs issued New York Ruling Letter (“NY”) F84112 to your company, Espirit de Corp., regarding the tariff classification of a women’s knitted capelet. The capelet, Style Number 5325045, was originally classified as a women’s knitted other garment under subheading 6114.10.0070 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule Annotated (“HTSUSA”). Upon review, Customs has determined that the NY ruling letter which was issued to you concerning the subject merchandise was inconsistent with Headquarters Ruling Letter (“HQ”) 963859, dated June 9, 2000. The correct classification for the product should be under subheading 6117.10.1000, HTSUSA, based on classification as a knitted accessory. The tariff classification for Style 5325045 in NY F84112 is hereby modified for the reasons set forth below, however, the tariff classification for the other merchandise in NY F84112 remains the same.


The submitted sample, Style Number 5325045, is a knitted cropped poncho-like article designed to be worn by women. The merchandise is composed of 70 percent wool, 20 percent angora and 10 percent nylon knit fabric. The item is composed of two hand-crocheted panels that are stitched together at the sides, leaving an opening at the top and bottom to form the poncho-like article. The article has no sleeves or pockets. Since the merchandise is manufactured unsized, the amount of coverage provided will vary depending on the size of the woman; however, the article is designed to provide coverage to the shoulders, upper back and chest area as well as the upper arms, but does not extend to the abdomen area or waist. It is designed to be worn over other outerwear such as a blouse or shirt.


Whether the subject merchandise is properly classified under heading 6102, HTSUSA, providing for capes, cloaks and similar articles, or whether the appropriate heading is 6117, HTSUSA, as a knitted clothing accessory, or, in the alternative, under heading 6114, HTSUSA, as an other knit garment?


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (“GRIs”). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRIs.

There are three competing headings under the HTSUSA which must be considered for classification of the merchandise under consideration: heading 6102 provides for inter alia women’s knitted or crocheted coats, capes, windbreakers and similar articles; heading 6114, provides for other knitted or crocheted garments; and heading 6117, provides for other knitted or crocheted clothing accessories.

Determination of the HTSUSA classification of the subject merchandise requires an understanding of terminology which is germane to the issue and utilized by the HTSUSA. We note the following definitions:

Shawl- square or oblong piece of material used for shoulder covering and is worn by women; The term also implies any material used for shoulder or head covering in the accepted sense of today. The Modern Textile and Apparel Dictionary, George E. Linton 506 (1973).

Cape- sleeveless outer garment of any length hanging loosely from the shoulders; usually covering back, shoulders, arms. The Fashion Dictionary, Mary Brooks Picken 56 (1973).

Capelet- any small cape. Dictionary of Fashion, Charlotte Mankey Calasibetta 90 (1998).

Poncho – (1) fashion item shaped like a square or small oblong blanket with a hole in the center for the head, frequently fringed; (2) utilitarian garment consisting of waterproof fabric with a slash in the center for the head; when worn it was used as a rain cape, when not worn it could be used as a blanket. Dictionary of Fashion at 446.

Style 5325045 is typical of a new line of items which are said to be the hot new fashion item for Fall 2000; however, the merchandise is not typical of those items to which it has been likened such as a poncho, cape or shawl. The merchandise under consideration is styled in such a way that it possesses at least one feature of each of the aforementioned items. Style 5325045 is pulled over the head like a poncho, yet the length is not to or below the waist as is the length in a typical poncho. Much like a cape or poncho, the item also has no arms or sleeves; yet it is not intended to be loose fitting as it is cut to be snug around the shoulders. In addition, the size of the item and the amount of coverage provided to the wearer resembles the amount of coverage typically afforded by a shawl in that it does not extend beyond the mid-upper body. However, upon extensive research, Customs has determined that the appropriate term for this merchandise is that of “capelet” which is not defined in the HTSUSA or EN.

In applying the rule of ejusdem generis to determine whether an item is embraced within a particular class, the courts have looked to the articles enumerated within that class to ascertain the characteristics they have in common. Kotake Co., Ltd. v. United States, 58 Cust. Ct. 196, C.D. 2934 (1967). The class of items classified within heading 6102 is that typical of outer wear such as coats, jackets, and similar articles which provide protection from the weather.

The EN to heading 6102, HTSUSA, state that the provisions of the EN to heading 6101, HTSUSA, apply mutatis mutandis to the articles of the heading. The EN to heading 6101 state that the heading covers a category of garments characterized by the fact that they are generally worn over all other clothing for protection against weather and specifically include capes and ponchos within this heading. The subject merchandise is worn for style and decorative purposes and lacks coverage and other features which would afford the wearer protection from the elements. The short length of the item is not conducive for providing any warmth below the shoulder or chest area.

Customs views the length of a garment to be sometimes an influential factor in determining how a garment is classified. For instance, if the subject merchandise reached to at least the waist, the classification would not be an issue; most likely all concerned would consider the merchandise to be a poncho within heading 6102, HTSUSA. However, the short length in conjunction with the lack of protection against the weather precludes classification in heading 6102, HTSUSA.

Therefore, the next issue for determination is whether the capelet should be considered a garment of heading 6114, HTSUSA, or an accessory of heading 6117, HTSUSA. The EN to heading 6114, HTSUSA, state the “heading covers knitted or crocheted garments which are not included more specifically in the preceding headings of th[e] Chapter.” While this heading is a basket provision, the garments classifiable in heading 6114 normally are those garments which either provide a greater degree of coverage to the wearer than the subject capelet or could be worn without any other articles of clothing.

The EN to heading 6117, HTSUSA, state that “the heading covers, inter alia, shawls, scarves, mufflers, mantillas, veils, and the like.” (emphasis added.) Although the terms set forth in heading 6117, i.e. shawls, scarves, mantillas, and veils, are not defined in the EN to heading 6117, HTSUSA, we note that these same terms are defined in the EN to heading 6214, HTSUSA. The EN to heading 6214, HTSUSA, states in relevant part:

(1) Shawls. These are usually square, triangular or circular, and large enough to cover the head and shoulders.

(2) Scarves and mufflers. These are usually square or rectangular and are normally worn around the neck.

(3) Mantillas. These are kinds of light shawls or scarves, usually of lace, worn by women over the head and shoulders.

The EN further provides that “the edges of these articles are usually hemmed, rolled, bordered or fringed.” (emphasis added.)

In applying the rule of ejusdem generis to determine whether the capelet is embraced within heading 6117, HTSUSA, Customs has looked at the common characteristics of the capelet and the aforementioned articles. (See Kotake, 58 Cust. Ct. 196, C.D. 2934.) Style 5325045 is intended to be worn in much the same sense as a shawl in that it is to cover the shoulders and to be worn over other garments when the weather would not require a heavier coat or wrap. The new fashion trends have dictated that Style 5325045 resemble a pull-over poncho in appearance yet resemble a shawl in length and the amount of elemental protection afforded to the wearer. As such, classification as an accessory in heading 6117, HTSUSA, is appropriate.

While the subject capelet is not eo nomine provided for within heading 6117, HTSUSA, the heading does allow for accessories which have a likeness to the articles which are specifically named in the heading. Customs considers the subject capelet to be within the purview of “. . . and the like” of subheading 6117.10, HTSUSA. (emphasis added).

In past rulings Customs has stated that the crucial factor in the classification of merchandise is the merchandise itself. As stated by the court in Mast Industries, Inc. v. United States, 9 Ct. Int’l Trade 549, 552 (1985), aff’d 786 F.2d 1144 (CAFC, April 1, 1986), “the merchandise itself may be strong evidence of use”. However, when presented with articles which are ambiguous in appearance, Customs will look to other factors such as environment of sale, advertising and marketing, recognition in the trade of virtually identical merchandise, and documentation incidental to the purchase and sale of the merchandise. It should be noted that Customs considers these factors in totality and no single factor is determinative of classification as each of these factors viewed alone may be flawed. Customs has been informed that other merchandise identical in function and design currently being sold in retail stores is displayed in the accessory departments.

Finally, in determining the proper classification for Style 5325045 within subheading 6117.10, HTSUSA, special attention must be paid to the HTSUS notes for Section XI. Note 2(A) states in relevant part:

Goods . . . of a mixture of two or more textile materials are to be classified as if consisting wholly of that one textile material which predominates by weight over each other single textile material.

Section XI, Note 2(B)(d) states, in reference to Note 2(A), “[w]here a chapter or a heading refers to goods of different textile materials, such materials are to be treated as a single textile material.”

Subheading 6117.10.1000, HTSUSA, provides for those knitted shawls and the like of wool or fine animal hair. Therefore, in applying the above stated rules to the instant merchandise, since Style 5325045 is composed of 70 percent wool and 20 percent angora animal hair and both of these substances are named in the subheading, Customs must classify the subject merchandise accordingly. As such, classification for the subject merchandise is proper in subheading 6117.10.1000, HTSUSA.


NY F84112 is hereby modified.

The capelet is properly classified under subheading 6117.10.1000, HTSUSA, which provides for “Other made up clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted; knitted or crocheted parts of garments or of clothing accessories: Shawls, scarves, mufflers, mantillas, veils and the like: Of wool or fine animal hair.” The capelet is dutiable at the general column one rate of 9.8 percent ad valorem. 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 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

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