25 Aug 2012
This extremely lightweight gi with comfy pearlweave jacket and wonderful ripstop trousers is perfect for weight cutting tournament use or hot weather training. The sleeve length and rough taping was not to my liking but the design elements in my opinion are beautifully put together.
I have been commissioned in the past by Arte Suave to produce artwork. I have had no contribution to this design. This and the following report will be my own personal opinion and remain as objective and unbiased as I can.
Arte Suave is a clothing brand based in Hawaii. They have been operating for a couple years turning out clean, intelligently designed t-shirts. I first came across owner Scot on Facebook during discussions about fightwear design which led to him kindly hiring me to design a t-shirt for his clothing store. I was aware of his debut BJJ gi as he showed me early stage layouts of the design. I was impressed with the lovely use of various weights of Helvetica font and small graphics placed over the gi design. It has taken some time for that diagram layout to turn into reality, but it is now here. I took the gi for a spin over the course of a couple weeks, here is my report...
Size, Weight and other stats
A1 size dimensions (cm) new vs after three 40 degree washes
A: 156 / 154
B: 76 / 75
C: 57 / 56
D: 17 / 17
E: 52 / 52
F: 94.5 / 93
G: 22 / 20.5
Made in China.
Available from: www.artesuaveclothing.com
My height: 170cm, my weight: 59Kg
The stats reveal how little, if any, the gi shrinks. It also shows how incredibly lightweight it is. At just 1.15Kg for a size A1, this makes it one of the lightest comp legal gis on the market.
Arm wingspan is at the smaller end of the A1 scale. Many gis I have reviewed have tended to be longer (which personally suits me) - for example the Estilo Purple (160cm), Kingz Kimonos (157cm), Gameness Elite (157cm). There are of course many brands with similarly small wingspans, such as the Atama Mundial No.9 (150cm). All other jacket dimensions are average and comparable to most other gi brands. Trousers are also pretty standard at 93cm long.
The Arte Suave Lightweight is made from 420gsm pearlweave cotton. 420 is very thin and very light but the pearlweave textile makes it more durable in my opinion than other rival ultra light brands that use ripstop woven cotton. To me, pearlweave is a superior fabric for BJJ and is far less prone to shrinkage compared to ripstop (jacket version). Just to give you a comparison with how much lighter and thinner this gi is, for a comparison, the current model of the Tatami Fightwear Zero G (which I have not reviewed) uses a 475gsm pearlweave and that A1 weights a tad over 1.3Kg. The Vulkan Ultra Light (not reviewed), another very thin and light pearlweave gi, uses its own 'honeycomb' weave and it weights a total of 1.2Kg.
The styling on the Arte Suave kimono looks very clean and simple but on closer examination, there are actually a lot of small graphical details placed throughout the kimono.
The sans serif font used (helvetica I think) give the gi a clean, fuss free, modern feel to its appearance. The splashes of bright green on the logos and the stitching add a colourful touch.
The collar is the usual rubbery foam core. It is covered with ripstop cotton - the same material used on the trousers. In normal light (ie not really visible in my photograph) the collar is a slightly different shade of white compared to the gi fabric. The collar itself is slightly slimmer than most other gis. Apologies for the absence of a collar by collar comparison photo, just take my word for it that it is thin, but not by huge margin.
The sleeve cuffs feature woven tape on the inside. Unfortunately it is the rough, scratchy edging type of woven tape that I find incredibly annoying to wear. I mean it's very pretty, but very uncomfortable for me.
A patch of extra material acts as reinforcements for the underarms. I should note at this stage that unlike most standard weight pearlweaves (which can be quite stiff when new), this gi was very soft from the beginning.
Embroidery on the tail skirt is my favourite design element.
The trousers are made from 8oz ripstop cotton. They are incredibly light and very comfortable to wear. During my testing phase, I would be bold enough to say they are the best trousers I have worn in many a gi. But they are very thin so my only concern would be long term durability.
The trousers use a flat cord to tie the trousers up. I'm not keen on these ties. They are very thin and after a hot training session, soaked up a lot of sweat and were very difficult to untie.
The extra layer of material covering the knee could really do with being longer. When in seiza position (kneeling) the material barely covered my knees. I noticed that the fabric (same as the collar covering) is a slightly off-white colour.
The same scratchy rough edged tape is used to line the inside of the trouser ankles. The scratchiness is less annoying here as the opening is much wider compared to the jacket sleeves.
Fit, Comfort and Rolling performance
It was fortuitous that when I was testing the Arte Suave gi, we experienced a very hot and humid couple of weeks in the UK. The ultra lightness and super thinness of this gi was perfect to wear for such weather.
I have this internal little joke about wanting to write five paragraphs in every review on how I open up my gi review packages. In the case of the Arte Suave gi I will mention that when the package arrived, I genuinely thought it was a mistake. Such was the lightness of the parcel, that Scot has only sent me a couple of t-shirts. He actually DID send me a couple of t-shirts as well as the gi, and it STILL weighed less in total than any other gi sent to me.
Naturally, the incredible lightness of the gi has a bearing on how it feels when worn in the BJJ class. For me, I found it the perfect gi to wear during our oh so brief hot summer in the UK. The jacket wicks away excessive sweat and feels both cool and light on the skin in the hot, humid atmosphere of the gym. The pants are seriously one of the most comfortable ripstop pants I have ever worn. I've never been to Hawaii but I imagine this gi is perfect for BJJ training in the warmer climate they have over there.
As usual, no gi review of mine is complete without a few criticisms. The sleeves, always a problem for me with my long arms, are too short on me - but for the average guy, I'm sure they are the right length. The tape used to line the inside cuffs are too rough. The drawstring is a flat tie and I found them very difficult to untie after a sweaty training session compared to rope drawstrings. I also think the double knee layer should be extended to the ankles as it is very short and I'm worried that the reinforcements within the pant gusset may not provide long term durability.
This gi would make a most excellent secondary gi for use when weight cutting at tournaments is a priority or if you train in a hot weather climate.