16 Mar 2012
With cool branding and a good fit, this gi has a lot of potential however it could do with a few significant tweaks, notably the itchy tape lining, loose threads and rapidly deteriorating inner screen print.
I've always found it odd when companies brand themselves after strong pop-culture imagery and then refuse to carry any of those images on their apparel. Zombie Kimonos is one such brand. Have a look at their website - you won't see a single zombie image on there. Sure the biohazard symbol kind of alludes to it, but it irked me so much that last year, when the owner of Zombie Kimonos contacted me offering a gi for review, I suggested I would do it only if they would at least make a patch with a zombie on it. That patch design is here, only, it's not been made yet. so Zombie Kimonos at present, remains zombie-less. Regardless, it seems the emphasis with the brand is less about zombies, more about raising funds to support jiu jitsu athletes. As the About Us section states:
" I created this company out of my passion for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as well as my hope and vision to one day one day "Give Back to Jiu-Jitsu" by helping compensate the top level athletes of our sport and sponsor new and upcoming talent."
Giving back is a laudable aim and I commend that for a mission statement. Now let's get on with the review...
Size, Stats, Shrinkage and Other Info for A1
Sizes in centimetres brand new v three 40 degree washes
A: 163cm / 157cm
B: 75cm / 73cm
C: 53cm / 52cm
D: 16.5cm / 16cm
E: 50cm / 48cm
F: 92cm / 89cm
G: 20.5cm / 19.5cm
Jacket Weight = 1.1Kg
Trouser Weight = 0.5Kg
My stats: Height 167cm, Weight 59Kg
Made in: Pakistan
Price: $149.99 (white) / $159.99 blue or black
Wingspan is always a concern of mine with A1 gis. Happily, at 157centimetres wide, the Zombie 550 has a very good length on it that suits my long arms. This is very much in line with models such as the Tatami Fightwear Estilo, Kingz Kinonos and Gameness Elite. Many A1 gis in the past have measured much shorter than that. Torso length and width are perfectly fine and fit me well. The trousers are less of an ideal fit for me. The length of 89 centimetres is much shorter than other models - the Estilo for example (96cm), or the Bull Terrier Limited Edition (94cm) - but not wholly out of fit for me. Most other brands measure around the 90 centimetre mark - eg Ronin Insignia (91cm) or the Kingz Kimonos (89-91cm).
Overall the zombie is cut very well and fits me pretty well. Weighing 1.6Kg it is not the lightest gi on the market but does not feel heavy.
The Zombie 550 jacket is made from cotton pearlweave fabric. It's a little rough at first but softens after a few washes.
The collar has a rubber core and is covered with ripstop cotton. It seems a little thin and more flexible than the average gi to me.
Side vents are lined with red coloured twill tape and reinforced with ripstop cotton patch.
Inside the jacket is a very large screen printed patch. It deteriorated rapidly following the first couple of washes. Large flakes of print came off and left ink stains on the inner surface.
I observed a couple of small areas where the stitching has come apart on the front panel. This may affect long term durability at a key gripping point.
The seam tape covering the inside cuffs are very scratchy. If I did not wear long sleeve rashguard this would be a very big problem for me - to the point that I will not wear a gi with scratchy tape. Other gi brands have shown that it IS possibly to use tape that does not scratch (either as twice folded piece of woven fabric or a different material).
The sleeves of the gi jacket have embroidered Zombie logos. These are lovely and very well woven, although I worry that the placement on the right arm might just fall foul of IBJJF rules. If you observe their gi patch chart here, you'll note that patches are allowed on the shoulder and bicep/tricep but anything going past the elbows is dodgy ground. On me, the logo runs all the way down my humerus bone and just partially over my forearm. I'm sure this would be fine but it would be extra nice to get this clarified by an official of the IBJJF.
I have already mentioned the flaking patch on the inside of the jacket. I feel that a large design here is a great touch for artists such as myself, but application and durability are more important - unless the faded look is intended.
The Zombie 550 trousers are made from ripstop cotton. They're pretty light but there is the slight feeling of ripstop stiffness to their texture which I'm not a huge fan of. Despite this, they did not seem to annoy me as much as other ripstop fabrics have in the past.
The rope drawstring is a plus in my opinion - I much prefer rope to flat cords. The contrast coloured loops (6 in total) are a nice touch.
The crotch/gusset panel is made from pearlweave fabric same as the jacket. I have noticed many gis recently using this configuration - I presume this is to add strength to an area under stress during training.
The knee reinforcements are interesting - sandwiched between the two ripstop layers is, from what I can gather, a layer of pearlweave fabric. This makes the knees a little bit padded. It is a shame however that the triple lining could not be extended right down to the ankles as it seemed a wee bit short to me. When kneeling on the mat, the lining barely covered my knees, which kinda defeats the point.
The base ankle seams have the same scratch tape. It is less irritating than on the wrists.
I received this gi in December and have had ample time to roll and really test this gi out. The fit, as mentioned before, is very good for my personal body size stats. I like the length of the sleeves and though the trousers could do with a couple more centimetres (I prefer length around 93-95cm) it was perfectly wearable. The ripstop material of the trousers were okay - not my favourite material but not the worst I have sampled.
I'm worried about the loose front panel stitches. These are not cosmetic loose ends of excess threads - they were threads coming undone from the triple stitched front chest panel - a crucial stress zone on the gi.
The Zombie 550 is the second generation of gis from the Zombie Kimonos brand. I feel it needs a fair bit of work to make it worthy of the price tag. $149 equates to roughly £95 in British money. Not the most expensive gi but there many that cost less. Certain aspects that I have highlighted in this review can easily be changed or ignored as they are cosmetic, but I feel the patch placement on the right arm needs to be checked with the IBJJF to confirm if it is comp legal and I suggest removing or replacing the scratchy cuff taping.
DISCLOSURE: This review represents my own opinions and I report on this as fairly and unbiased as I can. I submitted artwork to Zombie Kimonos in the past as part of my activities as a freelance illustrator. I am unconnected with this particular product.