A beautifully designed gi loaded with extras. The pearlweave jacket was light, well fitting and comfortable but the trousers were hugely disappointing over a number of crucial areas.
This gi was sent to me by the cool folks at:
http://www.breakingguard.com/ (for UK customers)
http://www.gidirekt.de/ (for German customers)
|Comp 550 comes with rash guard and gi bags|
Although I have worked (on a freelance basis) for a number of fightwear companies, I strongly believe in the integrity of my consumer reporting and try to paint as honest and unbiased a portrait of the product as I can. I am not an expert, however I do attempt to base as many of my assertions on factual references and statistics from previous reviews. The Comp 550 is my 30th official published gi review (not including x2 guest gi reviews but I am including my own design the Raptor) and 37th including unpublished prototype gi private reports. I am a BJJ purple belt who has been training BJJ since 2003 and blogging since July 2004.
Origin is a new brand created by one of the guys, Pete Roberts, behind popular e-zine BJJ Weekly. The brand kicked off their series of apparel models with a very popular pre-order, the Genesis, which was offered for sale over a one day period causing a bit of a stir. The follow-up to the Genesis, the Comp 550, is available for normal purchase and is the model being reviewed here (black is also available).
Size, Weight and Other Stats
Brand new versus x3 washes at 40 degrees C. All figures in centimetres.
Jacket weight: 1Kg
Trouser weight: 0.5Kg
My own measurements were not far out from the size chart offered on the Origin website, however it should be noted that the sizes on the Origin website relate to brand new and unwashed uniforms. Expect a small degree of shrinkage.
Jacket dimensions were pretty much average for an A1 however the trousers were noticeably smaller than most gis I have reviewed. Post washing, they shrank a little to become one of the smallest A1 trousers I have tested. At 1.5Kg in total, this is a very lightweight gi, impressive considering the 550gsm quality of the pearlweave jacket.
The Origin emblem is designed as a circular 'mon' with five smaller intersecting squiggles. Some have likened the individual elements of the design as being akin to tadpoles, or spermatozoon. I personally like the design, it is tasteful, distinctive and memorable.
The aspect I like the most about this gi is the very elegant colour palette chosen: light silvery grey, white and deep purple is applied with a great deal of thought and care throughout the entire uniform. The final impression is a very understated uniform with just enough of a flourish to attract the attention of the eagle eyed.
Free rash guard
The uniform comes with a 'free' rash guard. I am not aware of other brands who offer this as standard (apart from those with built-in rash guards) so it's a very useful and neat marketing innovation. The rashie itself is nicely designed and printed using dye sublimation, so will not peel, crack or fade. The rash guard that comes with an A1 gi is purportedly a size SMALL however it was significantly big on me (compared to the many other rash guards I own), and felt like a size Medium. As I use the rashie mainly as an under-gi garment, the loose fitting was not a problem.
It is a moot point (if one considers the entire price point of the package) whether the rash guard is actually 'free'. Arguably, it is less a free addition, more a ploy to embed the purchaser deeper into the brand. There's certainly nothing wrong with that. If the typical (ok slightly anally retentive) user is like me, they would probably always wear their Origin rash guard along with their Origin gi - wearing another brand would just feel, wrong!
|Dye sublimation printed rash guard|
It might be interesting to offer this gi without the rash guard and see how many people purchase the gi at the lower price that I presume it should sell for (assuming most rash guards cost around £30 rrp, obviously less at trade price).
The jacket was very comfortable and light. In many ways, the cut, the fabric the whole feel reminded me a lot of the Break Point FC Deluxe. It's worth noting that the Deluxe is one of my personal gis still on regular rotation (ie it fits me well and I like it).
The sleeve cuffs are reinforced with a layer of ripstop tape and then on top of that is a layer of branded tape. This upper layer of branded tape was very scratchy on my wrists. As previously reported in my Break Point Acai review, abrasive scratchy cuff tapes are a very big negative for me personally - big enough of a no no for me to avoid using the gi entirely. However anecdotal responses from those who also own this gi suggests that no one else seems to mind, so it's obviously me being sensitive.
|Sleeve tape: itchy AND scratchy|
Another negative I found with the uniform was the very strong synthetic odour pervading throughout the fabric. I assume the odour may have stemmed from sitting around in the plastic bag that the gi comes in, however even after three washes, it still smelled very strongly. The only other time I noticed a strong odour like this was with the Manto Evo (version 1.0), but to be honest, the Origin smells worse. I guess over time and many more washes the stink will disappear but I find it strange considering most gis I receive do not suffer as much, if at all.
|Circular emblem stitch detail|
Overall the jacket is constructed very well and reinforced with the usual levels of taping, double layering and triple stitching seen on most brands. Ripstop fabric is used on the collars, the aforementioned sleeve cuffs and also on the side vent reinforcements.
One tiny detail I completely loved about the jacket was the single Origin 'O' stitched around the side vents. It's a small subtle design detail not immediately obvious, but something I just thought was really cute.
The trousers are made from ripstop cotton. This fabric type, I have found from previous gi reviews, can vary a lot in quality and comfort. Sadly, the Origin Comp 550 trousers are of the more stiff, thicker type of ripstop - the kind that gets very sticky with sweat and feels like wearing cardboard - it was not very comfortable. This was not the only concern of mine.
|Conservatively double lined coverage|
The rope drawstrings, although beautifully dyed, pleasingly spongy and easy to tie, were way too long. With no exaggeration, I would say it was a metre too long, possibly more! With such a lengthy piece of rope I had two choices; to double wrap it around my hips again, or, quadruple knot it in front of me. I alternated between the two methods and neither was satisfactory. Cutting the cord would probably have been the only solution but it would have left fraying ends. I didn't bother in the end because the entire trousers ended up being woefully too short and tight for my personal liking.
|How long is a piece of string?|
Looking at previous statistics for leading A1 brands, it's worth nothing that at 88cm in length post wash, the Origin Comp 550 is shorter than the Break Point Deluxe (94cm for the canvas trousers), Gameness Elite (96cm), Tatami Fightwear Estilo 2 (96cm) and the Bull Terrier foil gi (94cm).
|Pearlweave gusset panel|
The trousers have the novel addition of pearlweave groin section (gusset panel). I last saw this when I reviewed the Sacrament kimono and I understand it was also used on one of the previous Shoyoroll models. I personally am not sure if a pearlweave gusset adds anything to the strength of this area on the trousers. I would imagine the weak points would be along the stitched panels, rather than the central portion of the material itself.
One very positive point I noticed was the copious numbers of drawstring loops - six in total.
|Impressive x6 belt loops|
One curious observation I spotted was with the double knee reinforcement - it was very short (see whole trouser photo above). The K2 Premier gi for example has trousers with double lining extending from above the knee all the way down to the ankle cuffs. The K2 is admittedly unusual in having such a lengthy double lined area, but nearly all gi trousers have knee 'pads' that at least reach mid shin. The Origin Comp 550 however stops just below the knee cap. I have no idea if this is significant or affect durability but it did struck me as unusual compared to most other gis.
I ended up not wearing the trousers after two rolling sessions, it was just too small even for my skinny legs. When playing guard, they would ride up to the level of my knees and beyond. It's possible such a short pair of trousers may fall foul of strict gi checkers at some comps.
My initial sessions with this gi were frustrating. My first session wearing the gi was without the rash guard and I instantly hated the abrasive cuff tapes. The same scratchy tape is on the ankles too but I did not notice the abrasiveness. Wearing the Origin long sleeve rash guard helped cover my wrists and avoid most of the scratchiness but it was not a full proof method to avoid the sensation.
The trousers were hopelessly tight and short by the second training session so I ditched them in favour of one of my regular pairs. By the third testing session I was able to roll and take notes on how the gi felt without the distractions of the cuff tapes and teeny trousers. As mentioned before, the jacket fits and feels a lot like my Break Point FC Deluxe gi, possibly even better as the FC has a very chunky collar. The Comp 550 jacket was tough, pleasingly light and snug fitting. I may end up adding it to my rotation once I remove the irritating cuff tape.
|Observe how high the trousers hitchup|
In terms of design, the Comp 550 is a carefully thought out gi. It has some beautiful touches. The 'free' rash guard and overall look of the uniform suggests, on paper at least, to offer the purchaser a product with a satisfying sense of added value. However, I feel there hasn't been as much attention paid to the actual production of the uniform. Small details such as the strange odour and the scratchy cuff tapes could be attributed to my own personal quirks but aspects such as the shorter than average and less than comfortable trousers and the ridiculously over long rope drawstrings are, in my opinion, unacceptable production oversights, especially for a gi costing almost £150 (Breakingguard.com price). Despite this, the overall package is still of a high quality premium range kimono more than capable of functioning well. If Origin can tweak the trousers (or offer mix and match sizes), and rectify the other niggles, then they will have an outstanding uniform. It's your choice if you feel £150 is worth spending on something less than outstanding.