UK fightwear and leisure wear company Scramble present their very first BJJ uniform – the 1chiban. This report (Part 1) offers a first impressions look at the pre-production gi. My next report (Part 2) will reveal data on shrink tests, comfort, fit and rolling thoughts.
1chiban by Scramble is available on pre-order from 11th November 2011 at 11:11am (UK) and 11:11 (Pacific Time). It is available from both www.scramblestuff.com and www.budovideos.com for £99 plus shipping and $160 + shipping respectively. Pre-order window unspecified, but due to the limited nature, likely to be very short. Deliveries will take on average 4+ weeks.
Read the Scramble 'Everything you Need to Know' which includes a detailed size guide.
I have been commissioned in the past by Scramble to produce artwork and photography for various Scramble products. I have had no contribution to the 1chiban. This and the following report will be my own personal opinion and remain as objective and unbiased as I can. This report is based on a pre-production model, final model will differ in some aspects of sizing.
When popular fightwear brand Scramble first hinted at a BJJ gi, their loyal and very vocal fanbase went nuts. Some expected a proton-splitting glowing robe emblazoned with golden kanji and already proclaimed it would be the best gi of all time (even without seeing it). Few however expected something as minimal as the 1chiban. When the first press photos were released, most fans declared their love at first sight intentions but some commentators were quick to criticise some of the logo placements and overall aesthetic.
Preliminary size and weight
The figures below relate to an A1 gi brand new (note: final full production model will have slightly different sleeve measurements)
Jacket weight: 1.1Kg
Trouser weight: 0.5Kg
Made in: Pakistan
Made from: Jacket - 550gsm weight cotton woven as a pearlweave fabric
Trousers - cotton polyblend.
The pearlweave cotton fabric for the A1 weighs only 1.1Kg - not the lightest around, but certainly not the heaviest. The construction reminded me a lot of the Break Point Deluxe gi and the Bull Terrier gi. It is navy coloured which may or may not be IBJJF legal depending on whatever rules the Federation decide on any given particular morning. Joking aside, as far as I know, navy is still allowed unless you are a black belt and are lucky to have your fight televised.
I was slightly nervy about the branded cuff tape used by Scramble. On appearance, it looks exactly like the scratchy stuff that was found when I reviewed the Origin Comp 550 and Manto Evo gis. When I wore the gi around the house, I noticed a small amount of scratchiness but not a lot compared to the previously mentioned. I will see if this is noticeable in my follow-up report.
The collar core is made from EVA foam and covered with what appears to be canvas cotton.
The side vents are lined with twill cotton strips.
I was pleased to note that the quality of the stitching on the 1chiban was very very good indeed. The photo below shows very few kinks or deviations in the collar stitching. It might sound trivial but other reviewers have noticed poor stitching on certain other models of gis - some of which are very famous brands. Each embroidered patch is immaculately woven.
The 1chiban trousers include two interesting and, as far as I know, novel features: cotton polyblend fabric and fully housed drawstring. I found the cotton polyblend fabric was much lighter than normal canvas pants. It actually felt a lot like ripstop trousers, only without the sometimes annoying waxy feeling. Again, the full rolling report will outline how these trousers perform on the mat.
The fully housed drawstring is a novel feature. It was added to prevent the drawstring riding up above the hemline. Basically, it's the same set-up as your average track-suit trousers. In my initial tests, I found no problem tying the string and untying it. The rope itself however was rather poor in quality - very soft, spongy and weak. Scramble say the final version will have a flat cotton drawstring instead of the rope cord, the latter still being included as an optional spare. Personally I would just chuck the rope string.
I was very impressed with the amount of reinforcement stitching on the inside crotch/gusset area. Additional tape lines the seams and up to five lines of stitching can be seen along the inside leg.
‘Design by committee’ these three words are anathema to the ears of nearly every designer, product maker and artist out there. It means someone took your cherished idea, tore it apart, re-formulated it, autotuned it and made it seemingly ‘better.’
The 1chiban was designed to pay homage to the traditional Japanese kimono. Family crest logos (mon) are commonly placed over each breast. Whether it is to a person’s taste or not, that’s another story. But from the press publicity photographs, there has been a large degree of chatter over the so-called funny nipple embroidery (something I term ‘Nipplegate’ which btw also refers to another apparel company incident) and the redness of the ichi-ban leg patch. Commentators wanted Scramble to move this, change that, alter this. It forced them to issue a statement you can read here.
As someone who has designed a number of products myself, including a number of gis, I can sympathise with Scramble. But it’s a fine line between listening to ones customers, and ignoring them entirely with a take it or leave it attitude. Wearing my other hat as a reviewer, I myself have been quite vocal in my critique on the designs used by some gi companies. I like to think my opinions matter, but that's all they are - opinions, with no more or less value than the next person's opinion.
From a personal point of view, I place a high value on companies that can offer something fresh, original and distinctive. How many times have you all seen a new gi design and thought to yourself, hmm, looks like a Shoyoroll rip off? Too many I would guess. It would be easy to go with what is already a success out there on the market and pander to the perceived masses. Too much money is at stake to design something that fails to sell. But in the case of Scramble, they have laid out their intentions and are bold enough to stick by their convictions.
Discussion on the 1chiban design
Scramble explain that the cherry blossom placement is an homage to the traditional kimono garment. In BJJ, the word 'kimono' is often used but it clearly is not a proper kimono, clearly the usage of the term in Brazil was less strict. Regardless of the etymology of the word, designing a modern sporting combat 'kimono' around an ancient traditional (and authentic) kimono is a neat and slightly subversive twist. When I first saw the design, nipples were not my first line of thought and to be honest, they really do not bother me at all. Sure, they draw the eye towards the chest, but they are small and subtle compared to the standard MASSIVE chest patches normally found on most gi designs.
The ichi-ban patch is pretty big. In my personal opinion, it is a tad too big. But as for being red? It’s a bold graphic and I thoroughly like it! Some have commented that it stops the ‘flow’ of the gi design, this I find funny, because unless you have a pure non-patched single colour uniform, anything you would place on the gi would stop it ‘flowing’. For the record, ichiban means First, or Premier or simply No.1. I wonder if, in addition to a statement to say it is their first gi, that is alludes to wider aspirations to be the No1 gi in the whole of the BJJ world! Mind you, the ichiban patch is half obscured when I wear it (depending on my posture) so its all a fuss of nothing really.
With the 1chiban gi, I think they were right to not listen to the critics. It is a simply beautiful gi design. It is perfectly balanced from top to bottom with the right amount of detail without being over-bearing. It ticks all the boxes for me, styled completely in the way you expect a Scramble product can be styled and there is nothing else out there like it. The only thing I need to do now is roll in it for several sessions and give it a good thrashing on the mats.
To come in Part Two: shrink test results and rolling report...