Many practitioners we’ve spoken to in recent months have told us that they mainly look to the major high end kimono brands when they are looking for the highest quality top end Gis that are priced over $200. But what these practitioners will also tell you is that the higher price tags for those Gis can also be attributed to brand recognition and they may not be getting the “value for money” of the high end functional Gi they were looking for. So the question becomes, are they really getting over $200 worth of value when they buy these Gis?
Now this is where brands like Enzo Kimonos come into the fold and especially with their awesome designs and highly functional Gis.
Changing The Standard Of Gis
Who is Enzo Kimonos?
Enzo Kimonos was founded in 2012 with the commitment to satisfy the needs and wants of the martial arts community. Enzo has been making high quality top end Gi’s for about a year now with some really outstanding and cool designs. Their Gi’s are manufactured to be of the highest quality and are set to change the standards of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gear forever, all while maintaining a 90 day customer satisfaction guarantee!
I was extremely excited to get a chance to review this Gi, one for the obvious reason that it looks amazing. My initial reaction upon doing some pre research of the company was that they are directly in competition with Lucky Gis as they are in the same price range and have some similar designs. Needless to say, given my experiences with Lucky Gis, my findings were quite interesting and may change the way you think about some of the top Gis that are out there.
Enzo Kimono’s are a relatively young company when compared to some of the very established fight wear companies and they are looking to bring a new vibe and additional variety into the top end BJJ apparel and fight gear market. For this review I was sent a black with orange trim “Nippon Classic” Gi in the size of A3 to review.
The “Nippon Classic” comes in two different colors, the black with orange trim (the one I reviewed) and the white with orange trim. There is a slight price difference in the color, with the black coming in at $219 and the white priced at $199, but both with the 90 day guarantee. This Gi was designed to incorporate comfort with style, and I believe it was done masterfully. There are many cool features in this Gi that are really unique that we will get into in the following sections.
The Gi itself is made from 550 gram pearl weave top, with a high quality Bio-Qi Shell™ (rash guard style inner lining). The bottoms are made out of high quality Rip-Stop material for extra strength, along with extra-long knee padding, and tapered pant legs.
When I put the Gi on right of the box I noticed that the Gi itself was a bit heavier than the Gi’s I am used to wearing. I would probably compare the weight to that of the Bad Boy brand Gi’s. Though it was a little heavier I could tell that it was a tough and sturdy Gi that would withstand the rigors of training.
As I have said I was given an A3 to review which fit perfectly on me (I’m about 5’11” and 185lbs). Since the Gi itself is not out yet, the sizing chart is not available for me to put up on here. Though I’m sure that when the Gi is debuted, a proper sizing chart will be available on the website at http://enzokimono.bigcartel.com/.
Other than the materials and rash guard type casing inside the Gi, the make is of the high quality standards you’d expect from all the top shelf Gis. What separates this company from the rest is their style. As you can see, this Gi has a very Japanese and classic martial arts theme. The inside of the Gi is enamored with “the rising sun” over top of some very eastern style graphic design. While the inside is a lighter in color, with the main colors being white and orange, the black is the polar opposite. The darkness of the Gi itself is contrasted with bright orange trim along the pants and the top. The skirt is embroidered with the quote “Live the Warrior Way” and the shoulders have the Enzo emblem sewn in as well.
Rolling for the First Time (Before a Wash)
Rolling with this Gi the first time opened my eyes to how comfortable and functional this Gi is. It was definitely good times! As soon as I walked in with it, my team mates and instructors couldn’t help but comment and ask about it. After the initial awe factor it was down to brass tacks. I enjoy grappling without a shirt on under my Gi (I usually do use undergarments and rashguards), and with the rash guard like shell rolling in the Nippon Classic was very comfortable. The sizing was perfect and I was a little worried what the wash would do to it. As I mentioned before, the Gi initially felt heavier, but whilst rolling, any additional weight was not at all noticeable. The Gi itself held up very well to the rigors of my training and grip fighting, and none of the cool embroidery seemed any worse for wear.
The Effects of a Wash
To my surprise and relief, washing this Gi did not result in hardly any difference. I thought it may shrink to a smaller size which would be bad for me since it fit so perfectly but it didn’t at all. The only thing truly to note is the obvious around color washing. You can’t wash this with your other white Gi’s (or lighter colors) especially in the first few washes. Other than that, the shrinkage was not what I thought it was going to be. The Gi stayed the same size and the colors were just as bright and vibrant when compared to when I unwrapped it! Beware though, since this Gi is black in color all the fuzz, hair and lint will be noticeable when it attaches to the Gi. This is nothing to do with the Gi itself but the color. You love black Gis, you have to buy a lint roller and do some cleaning.
Rolling After a Wash
Rolling in this Gi after a wash was much the same. There was a tiny bit of shrinking that occurred, but not over the top. Apart from that, the Gi felt a little stiff when I first put it on; nothing a little of rolling around won’t fix! Again, surprisingly not a lot of effect from the wash. It functioned and felt about the same especially after a few minutes on the mat.
Comparison to other Gis in the Same Price Range
This is where things get a little interesting. Obviously this Gi isn’t a budget Gi that cost less than $100. The black “Nippon Classic” is priced at $219 plus shipping (the white version slightly cheaper). So if you are willing to invest a little more for a top shelf Gi, this is definitely a good choice. It would summarize the comparison by stating that there is higher value for money proposition in the Nippon classic when compared to other Gis of the same prize range. We mentioned at that start of this review that generally, that is due to practitioners paying additionally for brand recognition. So the question is whether you want the brand or a better Gi?
We would put this Gi in direct competition with Scramble, Lucky, and the higher end Atama’s. As a direct comparison, the quality of this Gi is on par with my Lucky Mike Fowler Signature, and in my opinion, it’s cooler looking. I also roll with a Scramble Wave Kimono and the only thing comparable between the two is the built in rash guard, otherwise the Nippon Gi gets my vote.
By the way, I’m all for supporting the smaller and boutique companies, but I know many practitioners like “the big name Gi’s” as well. But what Enzo has done that even the big name brands couldn’t, is offer a 90 day guarantee on this Gi. Yes, there is a 90 day guarantee as they are standing behind their product. It’s obvious with Enzo that you get customer service since this guarantee exists. This is a big plus for many practitioners since it offers peace of mind.
I will leave you with these final thoughts. I really like this Gi! I hope that Enzo has a long lasting life and continues to make great gear. The best thing about my job is getting to learn about companies that are making waves in the BJJ community and getting to review the best products that are out there. Enzo Kimonos and the Nippon Classic Gi fit this bill.
Overall I would definitely recommend this Gi to any practitioner, and even more so to those of you who like to get some “head snaps” when you go to train and compete as this Gi simple looks awesome.
If you are after a high end Gi and you look for value for money ahead of just a brand label, then this Gi is for you. In my opinion there are no other Gis that I’ve reviewed that has a better value for money proposition in this price range. And don’t forget the 90 day guarantee which should put your mind at ease when purchasing (there is no other offer like this in the industry).
I can’t wait to see what Enzo Kimonos comes up with next, and I hope all the practitioners reading this review take a look at this brand!
Reviewed by Josh Leduc