Tariffs

Snuggies Are Blankets, Not Clothes

Federal trade court rules that lazy coziness will be taxed at a lower rate.

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Not priestly
David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

Last week I interviewed Pietra Rivoli — a Georgetown University international business and finance professor, as well as the author of The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Ecomonist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade — about bipartisan job protectionism and hostility to free trade in the age of President Donald Trump. Rivoli's book uses a tourist t-shirt purchased in Florida to illustrate the inter-connectedness of the global economy, and how every trade agreement, tariff, or labor deal comes with international ramifications even for a seemingly minor item local a t-shirt.

The sleeved blanket/bathrobe hybrid known as the Snuggie is no different. Which is why a recent U.S. Court of International Trade decision rejecting the U.S. government's insistence that the Snuggie is an item of clothing — instead (as its manufacturer Allstar Marketing Group has insisted) ruling the item to be a blanket — matters.

Judge Mark Barnett based his decision in part on the company's marketing of the item as "the blanket with sleeves!" and the fact that it doesn't close in the back. The defendant in the case, the U.S. Department of Justice, argued the Snuggie was more akin to "priestly vestments or scholastic robes," according to Bloomberg BNA.

Ana Wanson explains in the Washington Post that the ruling was crucial for Allstar because the Snuggie is produced in China and is therefore subject to an import tariff. Blankets come with a tariff of 8.5 percent, but "pullover apparel" is pinched for 14.9 percent. That's a difference worth taking the government to court over. As Wanson notes:

The Snuggie case and others like it show how companies may go to great lengths to avoid the barriers governments impose on imported products. President Trump has argued for even stiffer tariffs on products from countries that refuse to negotiate better terms of trade with the United States, like Mexico and China. He has also backed away from free trade deals that would slash tariffs among many countries, and expressed a desire for negotiating deals with countries one-on-one.

Read my interview with Rivoli, who says "companies and entrepreneurs often find creative ways to deal with all kinds of barriers," here.

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  1. Really? The largest intelligence agencies in the country that have dominated the news for the past 6 months have been badly exposed today, and we get an article on snuggies? Okay.

    1. There can be more than one story per day. So far, at this point in time, H&R has nine stories today. And it’s still morning. Deal with it.

    2. Can you provide a link to the Breitbart story that “badly exposes” the “intelligence agencies”? Thanks.

    3. In what way? I missed that

    4. You managed to find out about it anyway, so Reasons nefarious scheme to keep you from hearing valuable news doesn’t seem to have worked.

      Perhaps they are aware of it and are trying to actually take some time to read some of what has been released so they can publish more than a headline about it.

  2. Looks like every international business needs a Sovereign Liability Manager and Legislative Combinatorics Department.

    And we all need more indirect freight services.

    1. The government has forced businesses to prioritize regulation litigation and not being sued vs profits.

      The government won during the Clinton years and all presidents since have been on the regulation train.

      For trump’s efforts on regulation limits, I have to applaud him. Now if he would stop trying to regulate free trade with other countries, perhaps he would not sound like such a moron.

      1. ‘Clinton years’? You think that is when the government won?

        The government won way back when F Roosevelt was in office, if not before. All that’s we’ve seen since then is a desperate holding back of the tide.

        People do not care where their free shit comes from, as long as they aren’t obviously paying for it they always want more.

  3. The lesson to me is that if we are going to have a tariff, they should all be the same.

    But, the reality is that we have trade agreements, and these are typically negotiated.

    But that begs the question of why we tax our citizens just because they tax theirs.

  4. I’m fairly certain that there is a picture of a person in a Wal Mart wearing one of these things; does that suffice to make it clothing equivalent?

    1. This is equivalent to the argument that because one idiot chambered a single-shot pistol for the .50 BMG cartridge, that .50 BMG is a “pistol-caliber cartridge” and thus falls under the rule banning steel-core pistol caliber cartridges.

      1. And ban the XM855 5.56 round because I have an AR Pistol

    2. I’m fairly certain that there is a picture of a person in a Wal Mart wearing just about anything; Rejuvenique electric facial mask, my favorite pillow, spray-on hair, a chia pet, a comfort wipe, a pink camo tiddy bear.

      There are a lot of things I would like to unsee after going to Walmart.

  5. I say slap on an additional 25% tariff for ugly clothing or blankets. I really hope my wife doesn’t hear abut the snuggie…

    1. Needz tariff on fugly Crocs. Thing of teh gays…

  6. What about the SnugWow, a snuggie made of the ShamWow material? This way, there’s no reason to get up from the couch after that six pack. (old joke).

  7. “pullover apparel” is pinched for 14.9 percent

    Does not apply, you don’t need to pull this over your head or anything.

  8. Pietra Rivoli

    Every damned time I read that name, I read “ravioli” before correctly rereading…

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