A hugely ambitious and sumptuously illustrated uniform with a built-in rashguard lining. The overly short sleeves and trousers did not allow me to get the most out of this gi and colour leakage was unfortunate.
I have no business connections with Gawakoto or Art Junkie.
*This review is for a pre-production prototype, final model may differ from this sample.*
Comic book artist Bong Abad has been growing his BJJ brand, Gawakoto, rapidly over the past 12 months or so. His work has featured on his own products as well as numerous collaboration efforts, including my recently reviewed Scramble 'Shadows' rashguard. This, his first BJJ gi, arrived on my doorstep in all its amazing technicolor glory. It features his own hand drawn comic art based on the characters created by the cult Japanese brand, Art Junkie. Would I be dazzled by the high class bling on display or would it be something that flatters to deceive? I had to find out more...
Size, Weight and other Stats
Unfortunately I lost my brand new size data. The figures below are for an A1 gi, washed x3 times at 40 degrees.
Jacket weight: 1.4Kg
Trouser weight: 0.4Kg
Available from: Gawakoto
Also: www.fightwear.ru (russia), www.btfightgear.com (japan), www.facebook.com/head.hunting.
Further information on the Gawakoto Facebook page.
The post wash sleeve length of 148cm is very short for an A1 gi. Compare this with the recently reviewed Scramble Wave gi (153cm) or the Fuji All Around gi (160cm) and you can see the wide variation in wingspan, with the STE gi falling well below the average. Jacket length and width is within the average for an A1 gi. Trouser length is very short for an A1. The Tatami Estilo purple for example reaches a length of 95cm, a full 10 centimetres longer than the STE gi. Weight, at 1.8kg, means this is not a very light gi.
The Save The Earth (STE) gi is made from 450gsm pearlweave cotton outer jacket and a rashguard synthetic fibre 'inner' layer.
The collar is nice and thick with a fairly chunky leading edge.
The exterior colourway is white with purple stitching, trim and embroidery. The overall appearance on the outside is modest and quite minimal. It gives no clue to the extravagance hidden inside.
The rashguard is printed using dye sublimation - which locks the ink within the fibres of the lining and does not fade, crack or peel compared to screen printed inks.
The lining is rather loosely attached to the main jacket.
The sleeve cuffs are reinforced with double stitching and feel a little thicker than non-rashguard lined gis due to the lining extending all the way down the sleeves and into the tucked segment.
Despite the extra layer of lining, the gi still features the full complement of reinforcing patches around the side vents and beneath the armpits.
Above is another view of the sleeve interior showing how the rashguard extends down the entire length.
The back of the jacket and sleeves feature embroidered branding and logos.
The trousers are made from 10oz cotton twill. Embroidered artwork and logos decorate the front panels and rope drawstring holds the trousers up.
The trouser material is very light. I found them to be very comfortable to wear. The knee lining extends only as far as just below the knee cap. Ideally it should reach further down to become effective in covering the knees when kneeling.
The drawstring is inelastic compared to ropes from other brands but functions perfectly well.
The trouser leg openings are tucked under and held with six rows of stitches.
The gusset panels are reinforced with triangular patches.
Rolling performance and discussion
I rolled in this gi over two weeks. Similar to my previous experiences with rashguard lined jackets, I did find that it was a tad hotter to wear compared to non-lined gis. The weather recently has turned a lot colder so this was not as noticeable compared to when I reviewed similar products in the summer. In fact the lining does provide a nice comfortably smooth surface against the skin when rolling. But it was quite heavy. The numerous embroidered patches, along with the backing pads behind the patches plus the lining itself has contributed to a much heavier user experience than I am normally used to.
The photo above reveals how short the arm length is post washing. Although I do have longer arms than most A1 wearers, these sleeves are sadly, way too short to be legal under IBJJF gi rules.
I found the trousers to be a lot shorter than other A1 gis I am used to but I could arguably get away with the length if checked by a gi-checker. I personally prefer a longer length.
There is no doubt that the STE gi features some stunning and beautiful artwork by the artist Bong Abad, owner of Gawakoto. It's an incredibly ambitious debut effort from the up and coming fightwear brand. Ultimately however, my experience was let down by the sizing issues and also the colour run after the first wash (photo below).
After three further washes the colour run did improve a little but was still evident. The factory clearly needed to have used colour-fixed components when manufacturing the gi. The owner Bong tells me none of his other samples leaked any colour so I'm hopeful it will also be the case for the final production model.
This is a very special product, featuring unique artwork and some lovely decorative touches. As with most pre-production models, some further tweaking is necessary and in this case, the final models should offer slightly longer sleeves, trousers and make sure the dark dyed components are colour fixed. I'm assured by the owner that the final models will fix the problems I experienced. Assuming this is the case, I am sure users will enjoy training and competing in a very attractive and uniquely style BJJ gi.