In HQ H307548, Customs and Border Protection discussed the classification of women’s convertible high heel footwear. The names of the three styles of footwear are the following: “Girl Boss,” “Goddess,” and “Pashionista.” All three styles of footwear have removable high heels that allow the shoes to be converted into a flat heel footwear.

Each style of footwear will be imported and sold in individual boxes with the following items: (1) the footwear made of polyurethane leather containing over 90% rubber/plastic with a footbed made of polyurethane pigskin; (2) a pair of high heels; (3) a pair of rubber/plastic “Stelos,” which is the technology that lays on the bottom of the shoe and attaches on one end to the high heel and on the other end to a small metal bar located underneath the shoe. The “Stelos” are what allows the shoe to be converted into a high heel footwear; (4) a pair of rubber/plastic “flat caps” designed to cover and protect the area under the heels while wearing the footwear as flats; and, (5) a small textile drawstring pouch to keep the components of the shoe when they are not in use.

The three styles of Pashion footwear all consist of four main components: (1) the footwear which is made of polyurethane leather (over 90% rubber/plastic) and has a footbed made of polyurethane pigskin classified in subheading 6402.99.31, HTSUS; (2) the rubber/plastic “flat caps” classified in subheading 6406.20.00, HTSUS; (3) the high heels classified in subheading 6406.20.00, HTSUS; and, (4) the rubber/plastic “Stelos” classified in subheading 6406.90.30. As a result, classification of the subject merchandise cannot be classified by GRI 1 because no single heading provides for all of the aforementioned components. GRI 2(a) is also inapplicable because the footwear is neither incomplete nor unfinished. However, GRI 2(b) is applicable because it provides that goods consisting of more than one material should be classified according to GRI 3.

When goods are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings, GRI 3 applies. Specifically, GRI 3(b) is pertinent because it provides for mixtures, composite goods, and goods put up in sets for retail sale. Here, the footwear, the “flat caps,” and the “Stelos” are composite goods because they are uniquely created and adapted to one another, making them mutually complementary, and when put together form a completed imported product which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts. All of these parts could only be used specifically for this product. Therefore, the combination of either the footwear and “flat caps” or the footwear, “Stelos,” and heels are composite goods for GRI 3(b) purposes.

Here, the essential character of Pashion footwear is the shoe. The footwear predominates in weight and bulk over the other parts of the product. The “Stelos” and heel are needed to convert the shoe into a high heel footwear, and the “flat caps” are necessary to convert the shoe into a flat heel footwear, and this is presumably why a consumer would buy the shoe i.e. its dual capability as a footwear, but it is the shoe itself that is the most essential part of the product. The footwear is the only component of the merchandise that is required to be worn at all times for the shoe to function as either a high heel footwear or flat heel footwear, it is indispensable to the shoe and therefore the essential character of the three styles of Pashion footwear.

By application of GRI 3(b), CBP determined that the subject merchandise is classified under subheading 6402.99.3165, HTSUS, which provides for “Other footwear with outer soles and uppers of rubber or plastics: Other footwear: Other: Other: Having uppers of which over 90 percent of the external surface area (including any accessories or reinforcements such as those mentioned in note 4(a) to this chapter) is rubber or plastics (except footwear having a foxing or a foxing-like band applied or molded at the sole and overlapping the upper and except footwear designed to be worn over, or in lieu of, other footwear as a protection against water, oil, grease or chemicals or cold or inclement weather): Other: Other: Other: For women: Other.” The 2020 column one, general rate of duty is 6 % ad valorem.