Courtesy of Norm Q.
Gi, like most garments, are really all about brand names and marketing. I will agree that for the most part, it is only huge companies have the money to research, develop, market and warranty a product and there is a lot of overhead running that type of operation. Still, the price discrepancy among most of the popular brands does little to justify or reflect the difference in quality.
Most gi come out of a few factories in China or Pakistan. There is a multicolored galaxy of other producers around the world but they pale in comparison to what Pakistan and China produce. You know the standard bleached single weave cotton uniforms that pretty much all companies push as beginner uniforms and cost around $60 - $70? [These can be] imported from Pakistan at a price of $6 per unit, import taxes, and transportation included. Amazing what you can produce by paying slave wages, no? Just about every major manufacturer has at least a few models from their line produced in these centers.
Now let's talk about the fabric. Cotton producers have a somewhat complicated formula by which they grade cotton. Cotton is graded by using a complicated system of tests that measures everything from fiber length and thickness to individual fiber strength, maturity ratio (the amount of cellulose in the fiber) and permeability of compressed fibers, to name a few. So basically, the higher the quality of the fiber, the longer, stronger, lighter, better moisture absorption, breathbalilty and better dye holding properties it has.
So in relation to gi, companies will do anything to sell and make a profit. The latest marketing tool is to market a heavier gi. You will notice that most times, the heaver the gi, the coarser it feels, right? That's because companies are using a lower grade of cotton to produce those gi. The logic is that there is a lot more fabric and it is a much denser weave so the fiber strength of the cotton doesn't have to be as high as a high quality lighter weaves. Using lower grade cotton, even in higher amounts, is cheaper than using a higher-grade cotton. Companies are also savvy with marketing research and they know very well that there are few people who really wear out gis before they buy new ones. Try asking some companies for a data sheet on the cotton they use. You'll never get it. I won't even go into the cost difference per bail between the low, mid and high-grade cottons. You would flip.
Ever wonder why some blue gi fade so fast? Bad cotton. Wonder why a DAX moskito (for instance) weighs so much more than a Mizuno double deluxe, but the advertisedâ fabric weight is only slightly heavier? The cotton used is lesser quality and has much shorter, denser fibers. This is also the reason that some gis are so hot and donât seem to breathe. Once again, itâs due to bad, dense cotton. It's like the difference between a cotton shirt that one would buy at a discount store and one bought from a shirt maker that uses a fine Egyptian cotton. Wash them both a hundred times and see which one lasts, still looks good, breathes well and shrinks less.