Manila Kimonos…

Manila Kimonos, Manila, Manila Interview, Manila Gi review, gi reviews, gi review

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Manila Kimonos is a young brand that is based out of the Philippines. With their first offering titled “The Tropic Lightweight” being priced at a super low $107, it had some decent reviews on it.

They’re coming out hard with another gi titled “Thrilla Deluxe“, and is Navy in color with white contrast stitching. While it’s priced higher than their first offering at $168, it features TWO jackets and ripstop pants. One jacket is a normal 450 GSM pearl weave, and the other is a Ripstop jacket.

I don’t think any companies have done this with the offering of two jackets. Mainly they’ve offered two sets of pants. We wanted to learn about this company, why they wanted to release two jackets and get to know the owner behind it a little bit.

You can check out Manila Kimonos on the web here, or on their facebook page here


Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?

I’m James Jayme. I live in Manila, Philippines. I studied to become a nurse, but then I shifted careers after getting my license and then I became a full time web copywriter back in 2010. I have trained BJJ since 2010. I first started training with New Breed and now I’m training under Hevtek United-Ancheta Jiu Jitsu.  

How did you get started in BJJ?

I started doing Judo back in college. After failing miserably to pass the half guard and having the match restarted on the feet, I decided to go for BJJ. Been pulling guard since

How long has Manila been around?

Manila Kimonos started in May 2012

How did Manila Kimonos get started and what made you want to start your own company?

I started Manila Kimonos primarily to get high quality, but affordable, gis here in the Philippines. Kimonos can get too pricey here in the Philippines. A $100 gi you bought from online retailers may end up as a $200 gi once it hits the country because of both the taxes and the logistics cost. I thought of cutting the hands involved by getting gis directly shipped to the Philippines. We don’t really get much profit from the gis we sell, but that is the primary reason why the company was built. So yes, I still have a day job.

As for the people who inspired me to name it Manila Kimonos, I remember Jonathan from Kauai Kimonos and the BJJ Globetrotter Christian Graugart, visiting New Breed back in 2011. I was inspired how they represented the place they came from with their gis. That was when I decided to name the company, Manila Kimonos.   

Are your gi’s made in Manila or are they outsourced?

We outsource the manufacturing process of the gis.  

I’ve read the description on why you chose the Lotus as your symbol, but what does it mean to you as a person?

To me the Lotus means perseverance. In BJJ, we believe that this is needed in so many occasions. Whether you are down from an injury or facing a plateau in some point, it is important to dig deep and persevere.

What goes into the creative process when designing for Manila?

It takes a lot of trial and error for us. I also developed the habit of consulting primary designs to teammates who love gis. I also read a lot of review blogs and forums to at least have an idea what to put on the gi.

Your first offering was the Tropic lightweight and was available in the standard three colors (White, blue, black) and used Kevlar thread. Not many brands use Kevlar thread, how did you come about using that particular thread?

We try our best to get ideas not only from our designers, but also from experts in the field. We have consulted with some of the best guys in manufacturing gis and they suggested using Kevlar. It’s sturdy and meant for hard rolling. And yes, we also considered being unique since there are only few companies out there willing to invest on some Kevlar threads.

Why did you decide to put your taping on the outside of the kimono and what kind of fabric are you using for the taping?

It was mainly for aesthetic purposes. Some love it but then again some don’t depending on who you are going to ask. It’s the same taping that you see on most gis but it was just used outside.

Your next release is titled “Thrilla Deluxe”, and features two jackets one being regular pearl weave and the other being Rip Stop. Some companies provide two pants but never two jackets, what made you want to go against the norm and provide two jackets?

We always want the most practical options for our customers. We know a lot of BJJ guys and gals travel these days who prefer rip stop gis because of the weight and how easily it can dry up. But we don’t see pearl weave jackets losing popularity any time soon. Why not give them the best of both worlds?  

Will the ripstop jacket be legal?

Ripstop Jacket is not yet legal in IBJJF tournaments. That’s why we have the pearl weave jackets for such occasions.

The pricing in USD for the Thrilla is around the standard price for a kimono with one jacket and one pair of pants, ($169 USD) that’s going to put a lot of pressure on some companies to drop their prices, was this your intent?

We don’t really want to compete against anyone. In fact, I am also a fan of other companies. There are other guys who own gi companies that I share notes with too. In reality, we prioritized Philippines as our main market. $100 is not earned in one day in this part of the world. So I guess, that is a big consideration for us. That was also the reason why we also put up the Tropic Lightweight gi at $107. It is important for us to spread BJJ, at least in our own way, by not draining their funds that much.

When can we expect The Thrilla to arrive?

Pre orders close by July 10, 2013 (Philippine time). Please give us around 2 months to get the gis to be dispatched all over the world. So you can have the Gis around 4th week of August to early September.

It says you’re venturing into the MMA market, any details on the products?

We really haven’t ventured on it yet. I guess the closest product that can be used for MMA is our rash guard. As of now, we do not have big plans yet to transition to MMA. But we are not closing any doors. Like what I said, MMA is getting big.

After the Thrilla, what can we expect from Manila?

We’d love to hear feedbacks on what are friends want to see next.

Can you give me three words that describe Manila Kimonos and why someone should purchase your gi’s over another company?

Durable, practical, classy.

Any last words you would like to say to the readers?

Keep on rolling. OSS!