93 Brand “Charlie” Lightweight Gi First Impression
93 Brand is a United States based company and a fairly new brand to the BJJ gi market. It is headed by the same guy who runs BJJHQ.com (An AWESOME site if you haven’t discovered it already) and the Martial Arts Supply (MAS) website. They offer creative designs and color schemes as can be seen in their rashguards and gi designs (think, “The Goose”). I really like 93 Brand’s rashguards and own three of their designs. In fact, in my before picture for this first impression, I am wearing 93 Brand’s “Choking Hazard” rashguard designed by renowned BJJ artist, Meerkatsu.
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Unfortunately, when I first got the gi, I hadn’t planned to do a review so I don’t have specific numbers to offer. So this review will be more of a “first impression” than a review, though I will try to provide as much detail as possible. I received this gi in late January 2014 after purchasing it on a BJJHQ.com deal for $100 and am writing this impression after three washes and two rolling sessions.
When I walked into class the first time wearing this gi, everyone around me instantly stared and said “nice gi!” This was very unexpected! I actually liked the Charlie because it didn’t have a lot of ‘bling’ while still being stylish. I also liked how the contrasting brown stitching made it seem almost brown despite being an IBJJF legal black color. I don’t like drawing a lot of attention to myself with my gi and despite the Charlie not being a ‘loud’ gi, it still managed to catch the eye of my classmates as well as my instructors.
While rolling in the gi for the first time, my movements felt unrestricted for a majority of the session. However, I would not recommend this gi for competition due to its excessive stretching. After some pulling on my gi during rolling, the sleeves became a bit of a hindrance to my performance.
93 Brand Company Listed Highlights
- Innovative super light Pearl Weave (350 gsm)
- Heavy-duty 17 oz. ripstop collar
- 8 oz. cotton pants
- Thin white interior seam taping (collars, skirt, cuffs, pants)
- Brown contrast stitching in select areas
- Precise embroideries
- Fully extended knee reinforcements
- Lycra crotch panel
- Round cord drawstring
- 6 drawstring loops
- Generous amount of reinforcement stitching rows
- IBJJF approved
First of all, I am female and the Charlie gi is a unisex gi. So please read my impressions with that understanding. Every gi has a different cut and everyone has different needs of a gi based on their body type. I am going to give you a little information about myself and my body type so that as you read my comments, you can understand where I am coming from while still being able to judge how it would fit you.
First of all, I am a big female. Most women’s sleeves (gis and regular clothes) are too tight and/or too short. Most women’s pants are too tight in the thigh and/or too short. I don’t have any ‘junk in the trunk’ so unisex gi pants work well for me. When I gain weight I tend to only gain weight in the belly area, so my gi size doesn’t really change as I gain weight but the width of the gi becomes tight. Right now, I am coming off of a big injury that kept me inactive for quite some time. So, the widths of a lot of my gis are on the tight side. Because of this, I won’t note too much about my impressions on width.
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I have really long legs and fairly long arms (compared to both men and woman) as well as having a short torso/high waist. So, I like gis with a shorter skirt because it makes me look less freakish with my high waist. On the other hand, I also wouldn’t mind a gi with a longer skirt as long as the side slits are long enough to allow hip movement. I have also tried out A LOT of gi pants and jackets, both unisex and female, and have come to the conclusion that if I buy a gi that is not at least an A3, I will have to buy separate A3 pants to wear with that gi. One day I’ll be able to throw down the cash to try out an Origin Gi and this hopefully won’t be a problem anymore!
My go-to gi combination right now is the A2H Inverted Gear gi top (the sleeves are probably too short to be IBJJF legal as most A2 sleeves are on me, but everything else fits perfectly) and the A3 Hyperfly Pro Comp Pants.
When I first put on the gi, the pants fit very comfortably and were well within IBJJF standards. The jacket was a bit baggy in the armpit area and the sleeves were a little on the long side. The gi’s overall feel was quite soft and comfortable.
Before wearing it to class the first time, I washed it twice in cold water and hung it out to dry both times. After this, the sleeve length was within IBJJF standards and the armpit area was a little less baggy. The pants lost a little length but were still well within IBJJF standards for me. I really liked the fit of the gi after the first couple washes.
The “position/submission” taping can be found on the inner part of the collar, jacket skirt, sleeve cuff and pant cuff. They were not scratchy or irritating in any way. The skirt slit is a good length for the skirt and allowed for unrestricted hip movement despite the skirt being long for me.
The collar is pretty thick for a light gi. In the picture above, the Charlie gi collar is compared to the Hyperfly Hyperlite gi collar. The Charlie collar is distinctively thicker. However, is this a good thing?
I know that everyone loves a good thick collar. If you read reviews on this site and across the Internet, you’ll see others talking about how much they love the thick collar on their gi. However, a thick collar on a thin/light gi equals a ‘chin-up bar’. Essentially, in this case a thick collar is not such a great thing as a thick collar makes it easier for your opponent to grab you and keep a strong hold because the gi is thin and will bunch around the collar creating a ‘handle’ for your opponent.
Consider this situation for a second, and you’ll see what I mean. The collar shouldn’t be thick for the sake of being thick and certainly shouldn’t offer an advantage to your opponent.
The pants are made of 8-ounce cotton. They are thin and light but strong and very comfortable! They fit me perfectly in length and width and did not restrict my movement in any way. The waist has a rope closure and there is a lycra panel in the crotch to allow for added flexibility in movement.
Some people hate gi pants with ‘stretchy crotches’ (like Do or Die Hyperfly) but I love it! Especially if you have long legs like me, it really helps make the pants more comfortable and less restrictive. I would also think that they would be a helpful feature if you are someone who wears their pants a bit lower than their waist.
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I would say that based on the feel while rolling and my own pulling at stress points, the Charlie appears to be a gi that should last for a good amount of time. However, there were some points of concern that are not necessarily resolved in my head. First, was what I saw after the first washing.
I wrote to 93 Brand on Facebook and also wrote BJJHQ.com (93 Brand does not or at least at the time of this issue, did not have a website). I received an initial response from Facebook and then nothing. But eventually, received a reply from BJJHQ.com:
Reply from BJJHQ customer service:
The black fabric that you're seeing is the excess fabric from where the two edges of the pants are sewn together. The factory must not have cut it deep enough, so that is the extra fabric. It will not impact how the Gi functions since it is extra/unnecessary material (as opposed to frayed necessary material, which you couldn't cut off because the Gi needs it in order to function). If you take scissors and snip that thread away, the Gi will not fall apart or fray additionally (I've had this issue on a Gi jacket and snipped it, never happened again). This sort of fabric overlay is not uncommon in BJJ Gis and as I mentioned, it will not compromise the integrity of the Gi in the slightest. For the inconvenience, we can issue a $10 discount off of a future BJJHQ order. I believe we are all out of your size so we do not have spare pants to replace it with, however if you do not wish to cut the fabric away I can make an exception to our return policy and take the Gi back for a refund. Please let me know what you decide. Thank you kindly.”
I decided to keep the gi as what he said appeared to be true. I yanked and pulled hard on the spot and it did not give way at all. Aesthetically, it is not the most pleasing, but a defect that does not affect the performance of the gi isn’t a big deal to me. And I love BJJHQ and their customer service!! This incident has definitely not deterred me from using the BJJHQ site to purchase future gis.
After every wash, there were random, loose, stray threads. Most were no longer attached to the gi when I pulled on them, but by the third wash, most were actual threads coming loose from seams. Though none of these seemed to affect the integrity of the gi, if you care about aesthetics or are concerned by any unraveling of the gi, this gi would have driven you crazy!
The Charlie was my first foray into the lightweight gi world. Before buying it, I did hear/read that lighter weight gis tend to stretch and some more than others. And now I can very clearly say, that what you hear about stretching is TRUE!! The pics below do not do the stretching justice on the Charlie. I would say that there was a good 2.5 to 3 inches of stretching in the sleeves after rolling. The pants stretched a bit as well but were not an issue. The width of the jacket was definitely a lot looser (I didn’t mind this) and the skirt stretched as well.
What I ended up doing after my first rolling session was washing the gi in cold water but drying the jacket (hung the pants dry) on low heat just until dry. This made the jacket a bit snug. But after my second rolling session, the jacket fit loosely again with the sleeves being quite long but not as bad as it was the first time. Based on what I’ve seen through this washing and drying cycle, this probably is not a good gi to try and shrink to fit if it runs large for you out of the bag.
I really loved rolling in the Charlie….for the first 15 minutes. After that, my classmates were ‘going to town’ with using spider guard on me! I went from feeling like I was in my comfy, new, lightweight gi, to feeling like I was a little kid wearing my dad’s long sleeve button up work shirt and then trying to wrestle with my older sibling.
I really like the look of the gi, the comfort of the material, the general cut of the gi even with a long skirt, and the fact that 93 Brand offers in-between sizes. However, the stretching has made this a gi that I probably will only wear if my other gis are dirty or aren’t dry yet. For the price I paid on BJJHQ.com though, it wasn’t too bad of an investment. In all fairness, I might have been better suited for an A2H and then buying a separate black A3 pants. Regardless, the thick collar on thin jacket as well as the excessive stretch in the jacket would definitely not make this a gi that I would wear in competition. I do like the brand, style and general cut enough though, that I’d still try a 93 Brand Hooks or Tau if they come across BJJHQ.com at a discounted price.
UPDATE (Jan 17, 2017): This gi is no longer available.
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