24 Nov 2012
Drop dead gorgeous debut offering from new UK gi company, the Aurora shines while its sister model, the Alpha comes a very close second in terms of looks, fit, feel and comfort.
I have previously designed a t-shirt for this company. The views expressed in this review remain my own and I aim to report as impartially as I can.
Aesthetic first burst onto the scene in the most mysterious of ways. They were one of the first to support the fundraising venture by BJJ Hacks to make a film about red belt masters. They bought a very expensive perk to support the scheme and yet there was no website, no Facebook group, no mention anywhere about Aesthetic. It did cause a little bit of a stir in gear addict circles.
Clearly, things have moved on and Aesthetic have officially launched with several very interesting products. I should mention again that I was commissioned by them to design a t-shirt - which you can see here.
Aesthetic have launched with two gi models, the Aurora (blue) and the Alpha (white). Both feature innovative stitching patterns and small details not common to most other gi brands. They also both come with two pairs of trousers and arrive in a rather sturdy 'pizza' box decorated by a wax seal. It all looks very classy. But the thing that raised my eyebrows was the price - £104.99 plus free UK shipping and a fixed fee worldwide shipping price.
Size, Weight, Shrinkage and other stats
Both test gis given to me were size A1. The Aurora is listed as a lightweight hybrid weave gi and the Alpha is listed as 550gsm pearlweave gi. The stats will reveal below that there is very little to separate these two models based on data alone:
Alpha (white) new v washed Aurora (blue) new v washed
(size in centimetres, both gis washed at least three times at 40 degrees C)
A: 161/154 160/157
B: 74/72 74/71
C: 57/53 53/53
D: 16.5/16 17/16
E (ripstop): 51/50 51/50
E (twill): 51/49 51/51
F: (ripstop) 95/92 94/90
F: (twill): 93/89 93/92
G (ripstop): 24/23 25/23
G (twill) 25/23 25/24
Jacket weight (kg): 1.0 0.9
Ripstop trouser weight (Kg): 0.5 0.5
Twill trouser weight (Kg): 0.5 0.5
Both gi models showed negligible shrinkage in the key areas - notably the arm wingspan and trouser lengths. There was a small difference between the Alpha and the Aurora in terms of sizes, the Alpha jacket being a wee bit smaller than the Aurora but the difference when wearing both was again hardly noticeable. The wingspan, at 154-157cm wide is slightly shorter when compared to gis with reasonably long arms, such as the Tatami Estilo (160), but they are still longer than A1 sized gis such as the Scramble Wave gi (153cm) which I consider to have fairly short arms for an A1.
Trouser lengths for both models at roughly 90cm is a good length for someone my size. Again, they are not as long as the Estilo pants (95cm) but they are longer than others such as the Submission FC hemp sensation (87cm).
Both gis are reasonably light weight at 1.5Kg. Interestingly the total weight made barely any difference whether one chose twill or ripstop trouser options. The Aurora jacket is a teeny bit lighter than the Alpha.
The Alpha's jacket is made from a pretty standard pearlweave fabric. It starts off being a little bit stiff but after several washes, softens up nicely. The most notable observation with the jacket is the 'S' shaped contrast stitching running from the right shoulder down to the left front flap. Chinese words (roughly translated as Aesthetic) adorn the lower skirt and a circular patch is embroidered on the left sleeve.
The image below shows the collar, made from basic twill cotton, it is soft and comfortable but tends to fuzz up after several usages. The inner core itself is very flexible and light. Note also the black coloured piping inserted between the lapel and the main body of the jacket. It's a neat design element but serves no obvious function.
The sleeve cuffs are reinforced with both woven tape and an extra layer of twill on top. The latter I presume to negate the sometimes scratchiness of the woven tape on skin. The double layer of tape adds to the feeling of impressive sturdiness and strength in this zone.
Side vents and armpits have an extra fabric layer for reinforcement plus there is the same double taping as with the cuffs on the lower edge of the skirt.
The back has a small embroidered logo just below the neckline and a continuation of the S-shaped stitching.
The Aurora gi is made from 'hybrid' weave cotton. It is noticeable softer and more comfortable to the touch than the Alpha. The front jacket features a striking sunburst pattern of contrast coloured stitching and collar piping. It differs from the Alpha by having a different Chinese character embroidered on the lower skirt. There is no round embroidered arm patch.
The sunburst pattern is distinctive and easily noticed by everyone.
Unlike the Alpha, the Aurora has a collar and lapel covered with ripstop cotton. This did not fuzz up but it did fade in colour unevenly over several washes.
Reinforcements throughout the Aurora are the same as with the Alpha.
Aesthetic offer two pairs of trousers with every gi. It's an unusual arrangement, something I have only noticed being offered with the Breakpoint Deluxe. As with the Breakpoint gi, I found I preferred one pair over another, in this case, I much preferred rolling in the ripstop pair than the twill cotton pair. The latter, while not actually heavier, did feel thicker and less pliable when rolling. I also felt that the inside seam running down the pant leg was too thick and slightly irritating. The ripstop pair did not have those same seams.
Both the Aurora and the Alpha offer a thick and easy to tie and untie rope drawstring. The knees are also double layered and extend all the way down to the ankle openings.
The twill cotton pants have gi material crotch section while the ripstop pair do not.
Both models were a great fit on me. I felt the blue Aurora was slightly better fitting than the Alpha since the latter shrank a wee but more. The jacket was snug and arms just nearly perfectly long for my longer than average arms. The hybrid weave of the Aurora is incredibly soft and comfortable. It reminds me a lot of my Honey Badger gi and my Shoyoroll Count Koma. The softness is honestly akin to wearing your favourite winter sweater to work, its that nice.
Of the two trousers, I much preferred the ripstop pair and ignored the twill pair after my first try with them. The ripstop cotton fabric used with these gis is very nice, not too waxy or stiff like older gis from years ago, these ripstop pants are strong, comfy and light. Not as awesome as the Atama Mundial ripstop trousers however, but then nothing can match the awesomeness of those trousers.
As far as the aesthetics goes, I much prefer the Aurora over the Alpha. Although the Alpha is a very nice design, I feel the distinctive S-shaped pattern gets lost against the white gi whereas the yellow coloured sunrays really burst out. Others may prefer the more subtle effect of the Alpha.
Aesthetic have begun with a bang. The launch gi models on offer are terrific value for money without compromising on style, elegance and strength. The buyer is almost spoiled for choice and in my opinion, probably can do without the twill trousers entirely. For quality of fabric, smart sizing, good use of reinforcing tape around the cuffs and ankles plus the eye-catching design, I would say Aesthetic have done a very good job indeed.