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HQ 961136





February 28, 2002

CLA2 RR:CR:TE 961136 SG

CATEGORY: CLASSIFICATION

TARIFF NO: 6206.30.3010

Mr. Alan Sherman
Manufacturing Manager
Royal Robbins Rugged Outdoor Clothing
1314 Coldwell Avenue
Modesto, California 95350

RE: Two separate pre-classification rulings for same merchandise; Heading 6211; Heading 6206; Blouse; Vest; PC A88333, dated November 29, 1996, and PC B88726, dated September 2, 1997, Superseded.

Dear Mr. Sherman:

This is in reference to your letter of September 10, 1997, in which you requested that we look into two pre-classification rulings that were issued on a woman's sleeveless garment identified as Style 60002. A sample of a garment identified as Style 60004, which you indicate is identical to Style 60002, as well as a sample of a woman's sleeveless garment identified as Style 60002 on the attached label, were provided

San Francisco Pre-classification Letter (PC) A88333, dated November 29, 1996, which was issued after review of the pre-classification determinations conducted on October 9, 1996, determined that the sleeveless garment identified as style 60002 was a sleeveless blouse which was classifiable in subheading 6206.30.3010, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).

San Francisco Pre-classification Letter (PC) B88726, dated September 2, 1997, which was issued after review of the pre-classification determinations conducted on August 19, 1997, determined that the sleeveless garments identified as style 60002 (same style number previously pre-classified), and style 60004 were vests which were classifiable in subheading 6211.42.0070, HTSUSA.

In your opinion, the garments, style 60002 and 60004, should be classified as “blouses” under heading 6206, HTSUS. You request that these two pre-classification decisions be reconciled accordingly.

FACTS:

Style 60002, is a woman's 100% cotton denim sleeveless top, which extends from the wearer’s neck and shoulders to just below the waist. The garment is manufactured in Macau. It has a full-front five button opening, the top button being secured with a button loop; a shirt-type collar; a placketed front which measures 1" at the yoke and 1" at the collar; two chest patch pockets with a textile loop label on the top left of the left pocket; and chest darts. The front of the garment has 9" long vertical darts, which extend from the hem to just below the pockets. The garment has a shoulder yoke, and a two piece back, which extends from the hem to the back portion of the yoke. The collar, placket, armholes, side seams, back, front and back portions of the yoke, pockets, hem, and vertical darts are constructed with two rows of what appears to be a type of flat lock stitching which is sewn on the outside of the garment and is clearly visible. Neither the neckline nor the armhole openings appear to be oversized. You indicate that style 60004, a sample of which was provided, is identical. .
ISSUE:

Are the garments at issue classifiable under subheading 6211, HTSUS, as vests or 6206, HTSUS, as blouses?

LAW AND ANALYSIS:

Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI), taken in order. GRI 1 requires that classification be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, taken in order. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining GRI will be applied, in the order of their appearance. Additionally, in understanding the language of the HTSUSA, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) may be utilized. The ENs, although not legally binding, comprise the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level.

Chapter 62, HTSUS, provides articles of apparel and clothing accessories, not knitted or crocheted. Heading 6206, HTSUSA, provides for women's or girls' blouses, shirts and shirt-blouses. The Notes to Chapter 62 state:

Shirts and shirt-blouses are garments designed to cover the upper part of the body, having long or short sleeves and a full or partial opening starting at the neckline. Blouses are also designed to cover the upper part of the body but may be sleeveless and without an opening at the neckline.

The Textile Category Guidelines (CIE 13/88), dated November 23, 1988, (hereafter referred to as Guidelines) provide guidance in the determination of appropriate textile categories while insuring uniformity in the classification of garments.

The Guidelines define blouse as:

Blouses are outer garments usually extending from the neck or shoulders to the vicinity of the waistline. However, also included in the category are overblouses and similar garments which may extend to mid-thigh area or below, and which are frequently slit up the leg. Blouses may have a collar treatment of any type or no collar. The closure may be positioned on the front, back, or side, or the garment may even be without closure as in a pullover

The Fashion Dictionary, by Mary Brooks Pickens, 1957, at 23, defines "blouse" as:

Loose waist or bodice of various types extending from neckline to waistline or below. Worn inside or outside separate skirt.

The Essential Terms of Fashion, by Charlotte Mankey Calasibetta, 1986, at 9, defines "blouse" as:

Clothing for the upper part of the body usually softer and less tailored than a shirt, worn with matching or contrasting skirt, pants, suit or jumper. Formerly called a waist.

Although there is no specific definition of “vest” in the HTSUS, ENs or the Guidelines, Customs has consistently classified as vests only those garments which are designed to be worn over another outer garment. Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 954939, dated January 6, 1994. In that ruling, the garment under consideration was sleeveless with large armholes and a deep U-shaped neck in front and back. It also had 3¾-inch tank-style shoulder straps. The ruling cited The Essential Terms of Fashion, which defined a “vest” as “[a]n item of wearing apparel extending to the waist or longer, similar to a sleeveless jacket, usually worn over a blouse or shirt and sometimes under a suit jacket.”

The elements of a vest found in HQ 954939 were also applied in HQ 954713, dated January 6, 1993 (a knit sleeveless garment with a deep U-shaped neckline in the front, large armholes and tank-top shoulder straps was classifiable as a vest); and HQ 953771, dated July 7, 1993 (a knit, sleeveless garment with a full-front opening and button closure, V-shaped neckline and loose-fitting was classifiable as a vest).

In the instant case, the garments (styles 60002 and 60004) do not possess the characteristics of a vest. Unlike the garments in HQ 954939, HQ 954713 and HQ 953771, the garments' armholes and neckline are not oversized and do not expose undergarments. In addition, the garments at issue are fairly close fitting and would not normally be worn over another garment.

Based on the foregoing, we agree with you that the garments submitted are not vests. We find that the garments before us are sleeveless blouses and are classified under subheading 6206.30.3010, HTSUSA.

In pre-classification ruling A88333, dated November 29, 1996, a sleeveless garment style 60002 was determined to be classified as a blouse under heading 6206, HTSUS.

In pre-classification ruling B88726, dated September 3, 1997, style 60002 was determined to be classified as a vest under heading 6211, HTSUS. We note that the sketch of the garment submitted in 1997, was annotated with the words "oversized armholes", an indication that a garment did not have sufficient coverage to qualify for classification as a blouse. In the same ruling another garment, designated as Style 60004, with an identical body to that of Style 60002, was also classified as a vest.

The samples submitted with this request have tags which indicate that there were some design modifications intended, e.g., "approved with armhole curve change" and "raise armhole 3/8 of an inch." It is not known which samples the Import Specialist in San Francisco reviewed in 1997. Nor is it known if the modifications were made before or after the 1997 review, nor if the samples submitted contain the requested changes.

HOLDING:

The sleeveless garments identified as styles 60002 and 60004, as described in the FACTS portion of this ruling, are sleeveless blouses which are properly classifiable in subheading 6206.30.3010, HTSUSA, which provides for “Women’s or girls’ blouses, shirts and shirt blouses: Of cotton: Other: Other: With two or more colors in the warp and/or filling: Women's.” They are dutiable at the general column one rate at 15.6 percent ad valorem, and the textile category is 341.

Accordingly, pre-classification ruling B88726, dated September 3, 1997, and pre-classification ruling A88333, dated November 29, 1996, are superseded with respect to the classification of styles 60002 and 60004. A copy of this decision should be attached to copies of both pre-classification decisions and presented to Customs upon entry of the merchandise.

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 negotiations and changes, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service which is updated weekly and is available at the local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) categories, you should contact the local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.

Sincerely,

John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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