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Spearheaded by co-owner Blake Kerr, 1914 is named in honor of Matsuyo Maeda's maiden voyage from Japan to Brazil November 14, 1914. A fitting monicker for the launch of a brand new era in gi manufacturing from a company combing functionality along with style!
So what is so "new" and special about 1914 you may ask?! Well perhaps I am getting too hyped, but what I can tell you is these are some of the nicest fitting, most comfortable BJJ gi's I have worn! Lets first discuss the design of the gi. If I had to choose a single word it would be, "clean." An embroidered 1914 logo adorns the thigh and upper arm's but in simple contrasting colors to the gi, and really rather small size wise. Just below the collar on the back is again the logo, but other then that the gi is clean and left untouched. I prefer this style as I really do not feel that skull's with daggers, snarling pitbulls, nor outlines of brass knuckles really express my style of BJJ. Leaving plenty of room to stitch on school patches or sponsor info, the pearl weave 1914's are quite stylish with the color gi's not fading a bit.
A few stylistic designs make 1914 stick out... such as the tapered ankles on the rip stop pants. Contouring to your legs a bit better the tapering helps prevent bagginess and bunching. I am glad Blake and his designers choose to go with the cord to tie. I know this is a personal choice, but the more I use cords to tie, the more I like them! All pants are made of rip stop material which has proven to be one of the toughest ones I have used. Not only is rip stop durable, it is lightweight. The A-4 gi I was sent weighs in a a perfect 4.0#'s. So the ripstop material (only on the pants) is key to this being a great gi for competition. Keep in mind the knee's are doubled out material wise with reinforced stitching ensuring no knee's getting worn through.
The kimono itself is made of 100% pearl weave Chinese cotton, manufactured in Taiwan. Soft yet durable and very breathable. I have not tried out the gold weave (yet), the main difference being the gold weave is a bit softer to the touch but not as tightly woven as the pearl. But the pearl weave... honestly my friends, this is the most comfortable gi in my storied collection! Breathes clear, is very tough and durable, has a contouring fit yet is not tight nor hard to pull out lapels to use for choking.
Speaking of collars the foam collar with 1914 seems to fit into ones hand perfectly and is soft enough to be able to work and use immediately (I hate the gi's I have to spend a month or two "working" the collar so it was no longer stiff as a board). You will find triple stitching through this kimono and I could not find one loose seem nor errant end thread! The craftsmanship on the 1914 is second to none, and to be honest the best I have seen manufactured in Asia. On each sleeve their is perhaps one inch where a stitch was missed. It has yet to affect anything after 3 months of constant use. To round out the durability all stress points are reinforced.
I have used this gi daily in training and will be going into my third tournament this weekend with it, so I can attest to the durability and toughness keeping in mind that this gi is only 4 pounds! A key factor for those of us competing in IBJJF events where one has to weigh in with the gi on.
All said and done 1914 has made an amazingly affordable gi that is really top notch. Falling into the deeper end of mid range gi's ($125-175) the white 1914 Kimono retails for $150, with colored gi's hitting the market at $170. Extremely reasonable considering you do not have to invest $300 while waiting on a list to be "exclusive." I have some of those high end gi's we all read about and to be quite honest 1914 has produced a Bentley with the sticker of a Buick.
A caveat: I must admit that when I first got this gi I fell in love with it so hard that I contacted Blake and pitched him for sponsorship. I had never done this before but in discussing his company, product and experiencing his positive attitude about giving back to the art that has given us all so much, I decided to just hit him up. To my surprise he was elated to take me on board with the likes of Rafael Lovato Jr., Justin Rader, and the Adamson bro's in Seaside! Wow! I am honored and humbled to be in such company.
While I wrote 90% of this about a month ago, I must admit a bit o' bias in this review! Either way my opinion stands.... 1914 is THE premier brand to look out for on the horizon! I will be wandering around the Pan Am's this weekend and will be fighting in my 1914 Gi on Saturday. If you see me stop and say "Hi" and let me know what you think of the blog, and check out 1914's kimono.