CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 965692 ttd

TARIFF NO: 6216.00.4600; 6216.00.5820; 4203.29.1500

Peter Mento
Julie Vair
Expeditors Tradewin, LLC
1015 Third Avenue, 12th Floor
Seattle, WA 98104

RE: Classification of Gloves

Dear Mr. Mento and Ms. Vair:

This is in response to your letter, dated April 4, 2002, on behalf of your client, Anza Sport Group, Inc., d.b.a. Mechanix Wear, regarding the classification of six styles of gloves under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Your letter, which was originally submitted to the Customs National Commodity Specialist Division in New York, was referred to this office for reply. Samples were submitted for review. FACTS:

The articles under consideration are six pairs of gloves, identified as Models 100, 111, 200, 222, 300 and 400. All the Models are presented in retail packs that are designed to hang on sales racks. Models 100, 200 and 222 are packaged in a manner to prominently display a picture of the glove that shows the sewn on label that reads in part “engineered to the exact specifications of professional mechanics.”

Model 100 is a full-fingered glove with a synthetic leather-like material comprising the palm, index finger, back of the fingertips and fourchettes. A three-ply back consists of knitted spandex, foam and a tricot liner. The glove features vented fouchettes and a 1-1/4 inch wide elasticized strap secured with a hook and loop fabric tab over a side vent. The words “MECHANIX GLOVES” are appliqued several times across the back. The gloves are sold in eight different colors.

Model 111 is a leather-palmed glove that features vented leather fourchettes, with overlays on both the palm and back and on the backs of the fingertips. The remainder of the back is composed of knit spandex with interior foam and tricot liner. The glove features a fully elasticized wrist. Model 111 has a sewn on label printed with the following: “SETWEAR an authentic product for the needs of the entertainment industry.”

Model 200 is constructed similarly to Model 100. In addition, it has irregularly shaped padded reinforcement on the palm and along the thumb extending to the index finger. The back of the hand features a neoprene panel insert across the knuckles and overlaid reinforcement across the fingers. Printing on Model 200 reads: “High performance multi-purpose glove with a host of features that will be appreciated by both weekend and professional mechanics alike.”

Model 222 also has padded palm reinforcement along with a two-layer palm. Additionally, the backs of the wrist and fingers have rubber shock absorbing pads. Thick foam padding extends across the back of the knuckles and down part of the index and middle fingers. Model 222 is advertised as being worn by pit crews in multiple pictures. The advertisement also depicts a mechanical function icon, a portion of which provides the specific use for which the glove was designed. Model 222 is also advertised as “designed to excel in high-impact abuse with precise controls needed by professional race crews.”

Model 300 features a single-ply synthetic leather-like material comprising the palm, backs of fingertips and vented fourchettes. The back of the glove is made of knit spandex with interior foam and a tricot liner. The glove also has a fully elasticized wrist and side vent. The packaging of Model 300 claims that “Affordable features, incredible fit and easy opening make this the one glove no home, auto or garage should be without. Multipurpose glove is ideal for handling any job around the home, garage or auto.”

Model 400 is a full-fingered gauntlet glove with a reinforced overlaid synthetic leather-like palm. The back of the hand is knit fabric and features molded plastic knuckle protection, molded rubber finger protection and a hook and loop fabric tab closure. The wrist is partially elasticized and the cuff has an elasticized gaiter.


Whether the merchandise is specially designed for use in sports.


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides, in part, that classification decisions are to be “determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes….” In the event that goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI may then be applied.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level (for the 4 digit headings and the 6 digit subheadings) and facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI. While neither legally binding nor dispositive of classification issues, the EN provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUSA and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127-28 (Aug. 23, 1989).

Subheadings 6216.00.46 and 4203.21.8060, HTSUSA, each provide for, in part, gloves, mittens and mitts, specially designed for use in sports. As these are both "use" provisions, determining whether an article is classifiable in either subheading 6216.00.46 or 4203.21.8060, HTSUSA, requires consideration of whether the article has particular features that adapt it for the stated purpose. In Sports Industries, Inc. v. United States, 65 Cust. Ct. 470, C.D. 4125 (1970), the court, in interpreting the term "designed for use," under the Tariff Schedules of the United States, the predecessor to the HTSUSA, examined not only the features of the articles, but also the materials selected and the marketing, advertising and sale of the article. The case suggests that, to be classifiable in either subheading 6216.00.46 or subheading 4203.21.8060, the subject gloves must be shown to be, in fact, specially designed for use in a particular sport. Concerning the proper classification of sports gloves, numerous other court cases have examined the term "specially designed for use in sport." In American Astral Corp. v. United States, 62 Cust. Ct. 563, C.D. 3827 (1969), the court held that certain gloves were properly classified as lawn tennis equipment because the evidence established that the gloves were specially designed for use in the game of tennis. At the time, the Tariff Schedules of the United States included provisions for tennis equipment covering specially designed protective articles, such as gloves. The court noted the glove's distinguishing characteristics, which set it apart from ordinary gloves worn as apparel. Those features included: (a) an absorbent terry cloth back; (b) a partially perforated lambskin palm designed to aid grip, provide protection, and prevent perspiration by allowing air circulation; (c) fourchettes made from stretch material; (d) elasticized wrist for a snug fit and support; and (e) a button positioned to prevent interference to the player. Additionally, the court considered factors such as the nature of the importer's business, how the gloves were advertised in the trade, the types of stores where the gloves were sold, and the fact that the gloves were sold only in single units and not in pairs. The court also noted that, the fact that the gloves had other possible uses did not preclude their classification as sporting equipment. See, U.S. Customs Service, What Every Member of the Trade Community Should Know About: Gloves, Mittens & Mitts, Not Knitted or Crocheted Under the HTSUS, 32 Cust. B. & Dec. 51 (Dec 23, 1998).

In Porter v. United States, 409 F. Supp. 757; 76 Cust. Ct. 97, Cust. Dec. 4641 (1976), the court held that certain motorcross gloves, which possessed features specially designed for use in the sport of motorcross, were accordingly, specially designed for use in sports, even though not used exclusively for the sport of motorcross. In Porter, the court based its conclusion on the fact that motorcross gloves featured special characteristics and construction, specially designed for the sport of motorcross. These characteristics included a shortened palm, a reinforced thumb, an elastic band, protective strips or ribbing, and an out-seam construction. These features complimented the particular protective needs of the driver while racing with the specially designed motorcross bike on a dirt track. It was also shown that motorcross racing encompasses internationally accepted rules and that the American Motorcycle Association Motorcross Competition Rule Book specifically requires certain protective clothing and equipment, of which the motorcross gloves at issue were one type that complied with the requirements for the gloves. While the court noted that the gloves were subject to use outside the sport of motorcross, the plaintiff had already demonstrated that the gloves were primarily designed for the sport of motorcross. Moreover, the features, which made the gloves ideal for the sport of motorcross, rendered them useless or cumbersome for other types of motorcycle riding. Thus, the court in Porter found that the merchandise considered was designed to meet the needs of the sport.

Accordingly, a conclusion that a certain glove is "specially designed" for a particular sport, requires more than a mere determination of whether the glove or pair of gloves could possibly be used in a certain sport. In determining whether gloves are specially designed for use in sports, Customs considers the connection the gloves have to an identified sporting activity, the features designed for that sporting activity, and how the gloves are marketed, advertised and sold in relation to the named sport.

While the term "sport" is not defined in the tariff, in Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 089849, dated August 16, 1991, Customs noted that common dictionaries defined the term "sport" as "an activity requiring more or less vigorous bodily exertion and carried on according to some traditional form or set of rules, whether outdoors, as football, hunting, golf, racing, etc., or indoors, as basketball, bowling, squash, etc." In Newman Importing Company, Inc. v. United States, 415 F. Supp. 375, 76 Cust. Ct. 143, Cust. Dec. 4648 (1976), in finding backpacking to be a sport, the court determined that the term "sport" is not solely defined in terms of competitiveness, but also arises from the development and pursuit of a variety of skills. In this respect, in HQ 957848, dated August 10, 1995, Customs found hunting, fishing, canoeing, archery and similar outdoor activities to fall within the purview of "sport." The American College Dictionary (1970) defines the term "sport" as "a pastime pursued in the open air or having an athletic character." Likewise, Webster's New Dictionary of the English Language (2001) defines "sport" as:

1: a source of diversion: PASTIME

2: physical activity engaged in for pleasure.

Notably, the term "sport" appears to also encompass activities in which individuals engage professionally (i.e., professional sports).

In HQ 964901, dated January 31, 2002, Customs defines the term “sport” according to The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, the Unabridged Edition (1983) as:

an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing hunting, fishing, etc.

2. a particular form of this, esp. in the out of doors.

In your letter, you imply that all six styles of gloves at issue are specially designed for use in sport, citing the sport of racing. However, after review of the submitted samples and marketing materials, we find that two of the styles, Model 111 and Model 300, are promoted and designed for purposes other than the sport of racing. Specifically, Model 111 is advertised as “SETWEAR” or “an authentic product created for the needs of the entertainment industry.” Model 300 is described as a “Multipurpose” glove that “is ideal for handling any job around the home, garage or auto.”

We recognize motorsports racing as a sporting activity, as well as the role of pit crewmembers as an integral component of the sport, for purposes of tariff classification. However, while we acknowledge that the term "sport" may encompass a variety of outdoor and indoor activities, which may or may not have competitive aspects, we find that neither “entertainment industry” activities nor “multipurpose” activities fall within the purview of the term "sport." When there is doubt as to whether a certain activity constitutes a sport for tariff classification purposes, Customs balances a range of factors, which include the degree of bodily exertion, the use of traditional rules, the degree of competitiveness, the origin of the activity, and common recognition as a sport.

In HQ 962745, dated October 25, 1999, in determining whether the activity of “dancing” is a sport, Customs found that while it may entail competition, require athleticism, involve physical and mental exertion, etc., dance is not a sport. Notwithstanding news accounts about the International Olympic Committee (IOC) taking action to grant provisional recognition to certain dancing as “sports” in the Games program, we found that for Customs purposes, dancing is not a sport.

In HQ 965712, dated August 28, 2002, we likewise found that “lumberjacking” is not a sport. As “lumberjacking” does not originate from a recreational pastime as activities typically considered sports, we found that “lumberjacking” is most accurately described as an occupation, not a pastime. In that ruling, we noted that while “lumberjacking” contests have stemmed from the trade, such events fell short of establishing “lumberjacking” as a sport for tariff classification purposes. Moreover, we found that while some may consider “lumberjacking” to be a "pastime" and a "physical activity engaged in for pleasure," it has neither gained mainstream acceptance as a sport nor is it a sport in the traditional sense of the word. Thus, we concluded that although those gloves may have had features useful in the activity of “lumberjacking,” they were not specially designed for use in sports.

Here, like dancing in HQ 962745 and lumberjacking in HQ 965712, professional work in the “entertainment industry” and “multipurpose” activities “around the home, garage or auto” are simply not sports. We find no evidence to support the claim that the subject gloves are specially designed for a sporting activity. See HQ 083450, dated August 25, 1989 (cited below). Accordingly the styles of gloves, identified as Model 111 and Model 300, are precluded from classification as gloves specially designed for use in sports.

Of the remaining four samples under consideration, we find that Models 100, 200, 222 and 400, are classifiable as gloves specially designed for use in sports. We note the claim printed on each of the four styles of gloves stating “engineered to the exact specifications of professional mechanics.” Examination of each pair of gloves confirms that the gloves’ features would enhance performance in motorsports racing. Furthermore, there is sufficient persuasive evidence concerning marketing, advertising and sales of the subject merchandise in the trade channels of the sport named for which the gloves are designed.

In HQ 965131, dated October 25, 2001, Customs found that gloves designed for use in the sports of hunting or competitive shooting were designed for use in sports. In HQ 965131, marketing materials were submitted, promoting the benefits and design features of the gloves, which made them ideal for the outdoor sportsman. Moreover, the gloves were marketed through, and sold in, outdoor sporting goods stores that catered to hunters and competitive shooters. Likewise, in HQ 958892, dated October 4, 1996, we found that gloves which were close fitting, unlined, and featured palmside polyurethane coated fabric and nylon knit fourchettes, were specially designed for equestrian sports. Based on the detailed advertising, the term "All Purpose" was found to refer to the multiple equestrian activities for which the gloves could be used within the sport.

On the other hand, in HQ 954704, dated November 12, 1993, Customs ruled that lined leather gloves were not "specially designed" for use in the sport of snowmobiling. After examining the gloves and accompanying advertisements, we found that the gloves were equally suited for use as either motorcycle or snowmobile gloves. Therefore, the claim that the gloves were "designed, marketed and sold specifically as snowmobile gloves" was unsupported due to ambiguous advertising. Similarly, in HQ 088374, dated June 24, 1991, Customs ruled that the gloves at issue were not ski gloves, because the importer provided no evidence that they were principally used in, or designed for, the sport of skiing. In HQ 088374, there was no evidence of marketing or sale of the gloves as ski gloves, absent a hang tag including the word "ski." Moreover, in HQ 957848, dated August 10, 1995, Customs found that the advertisement accompanying the gloves showed the wearer engaged in non-sport activities such as writing, playing a trumpet, looking through a bag and taking pictures. In that ruling, the gloves (half-fingered with synthetic palm patch) were not considered to be designed, marketed and sold specifically for use as sports gloves. In HQ 083450, dated August 25, 1989, in determining whether gloves were "specially designed for use in sports," Customs found that a glove designed as a multi-sport glove and used in many different sports did not necessarily satisfy the meaning of "designed for use in sports." In that ruling, we interpreted the term "specially designed for sports" to mean that the gloves must have special design features particular to the identified sport. Comfort, breathability and a reinforced thumb were not sufficient to show that special design features pertained specifically to any one of the sports cited (bicycling, cross-country skiing, ATV-motorcycling racing and boating).

Most recently, in HQ 965157, dated May 14, 2002, Customs ruled that five styles of gloves were not properly classified as specially designed for use in sports. In that ruling, the gloves had some features associated with sports gloves, such as hook and loop closure and synthetic materials. Yet, the gloves were not classifiable under subheading 6216.00.4600, HTSUSA, since they were not sufficiently marketed, advertised and sold for use in the sports for which they were allegedly designed.

In this case, the marketing and advertising materials support your claim that Models 100, 200, 222 and 400, are specially designed for motorsports racing. We find that the advertising and marketing materials show a substantial association with motorsports racing and that the four styles of gloves are primarily marketed, advertised and sold to, and used by, participants and enthusiasts of motorsports racing. The claim that the gloves are “engineered to the exact specifications of professional mechanics” is substantiated by advertisements in motorsports magazines, sponsorships, and endorsements as well as through Mechanix Wear’s catalogs, marketing plan and website information. These materials focus almost completely on motorsports racing and specifically market the gloves to racing enthusiasts. Moreover, the vast majority of “Mechanix” printed advertisements are placed in magazines and publications devoted to racing and racing enthusiasts. The printed Mechanix Wear advertisements and catalogs are replete with motorsports pictures, illustrating pit crews engaged in NASCAR, drag racing and motorcross. In addition, the company's website is also vastly devoted to the sport of motor racing, providing recent race results and including multiple Internet links to racing team home pages and NASCAR on the World Wide Web. Moreover, the gloves are officially licensed by NASCAR and used by multiple NASCAR racing team pit crews.

Accordingly, the subject gloves, identified as Models 100, 200, 222 and 400, are properly classified in subheading 6216.00.46, HTSUSA, as gloves specially designed for use in sports, namely motorsports racing. This finding is also consistent with New York Ruling Letter (NY) A86298, dated August 8, 1996 and NY B85790, dated June 5, 1997.


The style of gloves identified as Model 111 is classified in subheading 4203.29.1500, HTSUSA, which provides for “Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, of leather or of composition leather: Gloves, mittens and mitts: Other: Gloves of horsehide or cowhide (except calfskin) leather: Other: With fourchettes or sidewalls which, at a minimum, extend from fingertip to fingertip between each of the four fingers.” The general column one rate of duty is 14 percent ad valorem.

The style of gloves identified as Model 300 is classified in subheading 6216.00.5820, HTSUSA, which provides for "Gloves, mittens and mitts: Other: Of man-made fibers: Other: With fourchettes, Other." The general column one rate of duty is 21 cents per kilogram plus 10.5 percent ad valorem and the textile restraint category is 631. The four styles of gloves, identified as Models 100, 200, 222 and 400, are classified in subheading 6216.00.4600, HTSUSA, which provides for “Gloves, mittens and mitts: Other: Of man-made fibers: Other gloves, mittens and mitts, all the foregoing specially designed for use in sports, including ski and snowmobile gloves, mittens and mitts.” The general column one rate of duty is 3.3 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. The Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels) is also available on the Customs Electronic Bulletin Board (CEBB) which can be found on the U.S. Customs Service Website at

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.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director
Commercial Rulings Division