29 Aug 2011

Gi Review: Origin Comp 550

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published gi review (not including x2 guest gi reviews but I am including my own design the Raptor) and 37th including unpublished prototype gi private reports.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

Size: A1.
Brand new versus x3 washes at 40 degrees C. All figures in centimetres.
A: 158/151
B: 72/68
C: 53/52
D: 16.5/16
E: 50/45
F: 91/88
G: 20.5/20
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.

Sleeve emblem

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.

Rolling Performance
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.


About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


Mark said...

Another quality Meerkatsu review. :)

Manny said...

Great review Meerkatsu, but one question, does Origin offer mixing and matching of their jacket & trousers? I would hate to see some long arm or long leg people walk around with trousers that look like shorts or jacket that came up to the elbow ( obv. an exaggeration ) .

Meerkatsu said...

I can't see mix and match options on the website. It's tough for start-ups to offer a wide range of size options due to cost. However they could at least enlargen the A1 trousers.

Meerkatsu said...

@that_hal has left a new comment on your post "Gi Review: Origin Comp 550":

I would not say this is a quality review... I feel like this review was done when Meerkatsu was having a bad week... The Origin Gi is by far one of the best Gi I have every used... Not sure I would agree at all with this sizing being off either.. When I called Pete and told him my height and weight he suggested a A3 and it fits perfect! The Gi did have a smell to it but I assumed it was moth ball small... which went away after one wash...

Very strange how the you had trouble with the trousers...
One thing I will agree with is the strings are crazy long! But by far the best strings I have used

It could be though because I have the limited release Genesis ... I have gotten more "wow what gi is that!" then I have ever recieved.

It breathes incredibly well and rolls like it was painted on... I love this Gi!
Maybe if you Meerkatsu did the art work he would like it ;) (just kidding)

Meerkatsu said...

Hey that_hal, thanks for the comment. I reckon maybe they just got the sizing wrong on the A1, but managed to get a better average size for other sizes, especially yours. This is not unusual if you imagine that a gi designer would be best placed to suggest dimensions closer to his own size measurements compared to those outside his own experience.
I know you were probably jesting, but even if I contributed artwork to this gi, if I then had to review it, I would still moan about the bits that annoyed me - if you recall my Raptor review, I moaned about the shrinkage and the trousers sizes with that model too!

So to sum, I think my review IS quality, where else would you get a no holds barred review?

Anonymous said...

It's sad it was so disappointing for you because it's a nice looking gi, nice enough to stand out but not so flash that a white belt would feel uncomfortable wearing it

Have the manufacturers got back to you on this review?

Meerkatsu said...

I've not had feedback but then I don't expect to. However I'm pretty sure, like all good companies, Origin will see my critique as feedback to help improve their products for the next generation.

SkinnyD said...

I will be reviewing the original Origin Genesis here shortly. It has the same over-sized strings. May I suggest trimming the strings, and then carefully cauterizing the ends with a match? It works wonders.

On another note, does this gi have the stubby knee pads? The Genesis has knee pads that are maybe 12 inches tall and when I am kneeling, they don't even cover my knees anymore. There is a reason that knee reinforcements extend far down the trouser leg: because the trousers climb when you kneel!

Good review, BTW.

Twilight said...

I'm truly impressed with the Origin Comp 550, love at first sight :)) and since the manufacturer strives towards excellence, this review can only lead him in that direction. Greetings from Croatia!

Liam H Wandi said...

AS always, very informative and balances review. thanks dude

Enzo said...

Great review, that obviously takes you alot of time and effort to create, but I am ashamed to say that my favourite part of the review is the photo of you with the caption "how long is a bit of string". Comedy gold!

Meerkatsu said...

Thanks bro, the string is clearly a visual metaphor for the size of my ego ;)

Matt said...

Reply from Matt at BreakingGuard.com

Thanks for the review Meerkatsu.

This is a really long reply, but definitely worth reading for anyone with an interest in BJJ Gis.

We're really pleased you love many of the features on the Origin550 and that you were impressed by some of the unique design touches that Pete Roberts has introduced. If your readers would like to see more images of the Comp550 they can be seen at our BJJ gi shop at www.breakingguard.com/comp550

Your review mentions a couple of points which are really useful for us to know, so thanks for the excellent feedback...

First the smaller points...
As you mentioned, the Gis come in a heavy duty bag to keep them safe in transit. Like most packaging plastics it can sometimes have a light residual odour, but this is normally unnoticeable or will go after a single wash. We'll investigate your report and have a chat to Pete about the packaging. With reference to the ripstop lining on the cuffs, we'll also have a chat to Pete. Personally, I love to roll in my Comp550 and haven't noticed it myself (and we've also had no other feedback about it as an issue). However if there's an opportunity to improve the cuff 'feel' I'm sure Pete will find it. On the free rashguard point. Pete's vision is that the gi and rashguard always come as a complete package to offer extra value. It's worth remembering that the Origin 550 is a limited edition high-spec imported gi, so if it didn't come with a rashguard the price would be the same. We appreciate the feedback and we'll take the 'free' text off the BreakingGuard.com product description to save any confusion.

Trouser sizing
On the trouser length, Origin are a little shorter (5-6cm) on their A1 trousers than some manufacturers - this is based on Origin's user research. Body size variation is more extreme amongst A1 BJJ practitioners (and at the other end for A5 practitioners). I've noticed on a few of your reviews that you say you'd prefer to swap your A1 trousers for A2 (including on the Raptor gi designed in conjunction with Meerkatsu) - so perhaps this goes someway to explain your size query.

If any of your readers have any questions about their personal size, we're always happy to recommend a gi size at Breakingguard.com. It's also worth noting that Origin offer 7 size variations (including 'A2 Big' and 'A3 Tall') because Pete wants everyone to have the best possible fit (by comparison most manufacturers only offer 4-5 variations).

and finally the stretchy drawstring!
We love the picture! There's nothing wrong with boasting about your drawstring length :-). We think you may have an oversized string on your sample but this can be easily rectified by trimming one end and applying heat to seal the cut. We've also mentioned this to Pete at Origin. On a functionality note, this new type of drawstring is an illustration of how Pete's thinking is putting the BJJ fighter first. There have been several discussions about flat cotton belt ties being virtually useless for actually holding trousers up. This new stretchy drawstring gives better grip than flat cotton belt ties. It's also very comfortable and stops you having to tie your trousers up ten times a session.

On the good points...
We love the fact that you picked up on the unique stitching and the design. Having the Comp550 described as 'a beautifully designed gi loaded with extras' by Meerkatsu is amazing! Your comparison to the jacket as being like your Break Point FC Deluxe (one of your favourite personal gis) is also a great compliment. Thanks again for the review... we really appreciate all the effort and time you've put in.

CoFounder BreakingGuard.com

PS: For more images go to www.breakingguard.com/comp550

The Grappling Addict said...

What a pitty that the gi shrank like this and that there are that many negatives. The gi looks pretty cool though. Maybe with the next batch.
Great review as always Sey!

Never A Father said...

Yes Meerkatsu the comment about the Drawing was in jesting... I do trust in your ability to give an honest review! I have really enjoyed reading all your post and blogs on your site!

To the comment by :The Grappling Addict:
Trust me get this batch... it is an amazing Gi! Although Pete does have another one coming out soon that looks unreal good!

Anonymous said...

8 weeks since I ordered mine and still nowhere to be found. Phonecalls and emails unanswered. I'd stay wary.


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