This year is a good mix of old and new companies in every price range.
Hey, I’m gonna to let you in on a secret. Listen close.
There’s no significant difference between
the overall ratings of the top 33 brands.
We just thought 20 was a good round number for the cut-off, and people love “The Top…” lists. The next 13 brands scored similarly to the ones above.
Here are the complete rankings of all 51 brands, from best to worst:
|7||Live Love Fight||$95||4.22|
|9||Padilla & Sons||$102||4.17|
|29||OTM (On The Mat)||$124||3.75|
If a brand isn’t listed, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. It just means it didn’t get over 10 reviews, the threshold we set for inclusion.
So what does the Top 20 really mean?
Put simply, #1 isn’t so different than #20. All the top 33 brands are good and score well in the ratings.
To understand what the rankings really mean, you need to be familiar with this little blue fellow.The light blue bell curve shows the range within which the “true” overall rating of a brand most likely lies. The higher the curve, the more likely the “true” rating of a brand is located there. The dark blue line is where the true rating most likely lies, at the mid point between the two edges and the highest point on the curve. (You’ll learn how we calculated this rating below.)
Ratings aren’t absolute and perfect, but they are our best guess. (There could also be biases affecting the results, which we’ll explain in detail later.)
So what gives the blue bells different shapes? Confidence. The curve changes depending on how confident we are in a rating.
Let me illustrate this for you:
Tight and tall with steep sides means higher confidence.
Wide, thin and flat means less confidence.
What raises our confidence in a score is the number of reviews we got for a company. More reviews means more confidence.
Take a look at Atama and Koral, two established big companies with high volumes of sales. Their ranking markers are like gumdrops.
Now look at newcomers like Gorilla, Subculture, Killer Bee, Kauai Kimonos, etc. They’re pancakes.
So how is rating calculated?
What makes the rating different from a raw average is that our statistical model accounts for reviewer effects (like the fact that some people naturally rate all gis lower and others rate all gis higher), downweights multiple ratings of the same brand by the same reviewer, accounts for gi color (blue and black rate higher than white on average), country of origin and belt rank of the reviewers, as well as use in competition. (We’ll explain how we figured this out in the future.)
Now that you know that the rankings are really “fuzzy scores,” you can see that it’s possible for lower ranked brands to rank higher than ones above it, given the chance.
Here’s an example of what I mean.
To get an idea of what this means to the Top 20, let’s look at the overlap between the #1 rating and #20, which I have colored in below. The orange column between the dashed white lines is where they overlap.
Pay attention to how every brand between #1 and #20 falls inside this overlap. This means every brand has the potential to be better than every other.
So what does a rating like “4.17″ actually mean?
To put the score into context, here is how reviewers were asked to pick their rating:
1 – Terrible. You hate this gi and will never buy this brand again.
2 – Bad. You are disappointed in this gi and don’t recommend it.
3 – OK. You haven’t had many problems with this gi, but it’s nothing special.
4 – Good. You are happy and would buy another by this brand.
5 – Excellent. You are extremely happy and it is among your favorites.
Per those guidelines, a score of 4.17 means “Most people thought they were good, and a few thought they were excellent.”
The difference between #1 and #20 is only 0.41. Viewed like this, we can see that every brand in the Top 20 is good. Some lean a little toward OK, other toward excellent, but they’re all good.
With all the brands in the Top 20 (and Top 33) being good, you can look at other factors in determining which one to buy over another. Maybe it’s fit, comfort or style, all of which we’ll examine in depth later. Maybe it’s the brand’s reputation, or their vibe and “message,” or their great customer service and return policy.
I’m not a mind reader, so I don’t know which of those factors matters most to you, but here’s one that we can examine right now: average price. Let’s see where we can get a deal in the Top 20.
If you want the gi with the best price-to-rating ratio, it’s the women’s brand Fenom at only $80. Seeing as only 5% of our reviewers were female, here are the standouts in the “under $130″ range that work for men too:
- Live Love Fight ($95)
- Padilla & Sons ($102)
- Subculture ($103)
- Faixa Rua ($104)
- Killer Bee ($113)
- Gorilla ($123)
- Tatami ($124)
- Fushida ($127)
If we want to be kind, we can put Ouano in the cheap category at $136.
Getting into the mid to high price ranges, you have…
- Redstar ($143)
- Kauai Kimonos ($151)
- Atama ($154)
- Dragao ($160)
- Mizuno ($165)
- Koral ($168)
- Origin ($171)
- Shoyoroll ($174)
Those of you with money to burn can look at the very high end brands Isami ($198) and Bull Terrier ($207).
While prices have gone up over the years, it’s nice to see there are plenty of good brands making gis for around $100-130.
We’re just getting warmed up.
This is just the first of many posts. We can cut up the survey data a lot of different ways, and it will take months to get through it all. Here are some questions we’re looking to answer:
- How much extra will someone pay for a gi that “looks cool”?
- Why did Shoyoroll drop out of first place?
- How did Break Point get first place last year and not even make top 20 this year?
- What’s up with the Gracie Barra gis?
- How long will it take you to get a black belt? (Yes, we have stats on that!)
If you want to help me out for the months of work I have already put into this project, please make a donation via Paypal. Everything I do is out of curiosity and wanting to help the online BJJ community.