A dumbfounded look is the usual reaction to the first mention of É Nóis, a BJJ brand that seems to make it’s way to the mainstream at a snail’s pace. But impressing your local gi addict is not the only reason why you should consider them for your next buy.
Around 2013, you could almost count the number of BJJ brands on your two hands. But that changed in the following years when a huge number of small brands debuted, and É Nóis is one of them. If you’ve read my previous reviews, you know that I appreciate openly stated dedication to the craft. Well this time I don’t even have to ramble on about that.
The company runs out of LA and is driven by David Malik Telfer, who gave some more background on É Nóis in this interview led by Merkatsu. I think this single statement embodies why I’m happy to wear his stuff on any given day:
As far as imagery, I think BJJ clothing is already beginning to mature and eventually we will leave behind the less subtle wording and graphics like “tap or snap.” We are bigger than that and smarter than that and we can express our culture without yelling about it. That’s why we try to use subtle and abstract wording and let our images speak for us.
Around the Gi
Let me spell it out clearly right now: É Nóis has the best customer support I have ever seen. Support doesn’t event do it justice, “relationship” is probably more accurate.
Just like VHTS, they seems small enough that they can afford to advise customers individually — and they do. I received a personalized email not only after the order went out, but also after it arrived asking me if everything was fine. When I mentioned the gi being a tad too large for me (more about that later), David was as helpful as he could and asked for my size & weight so he could accommodate for me in a next batch.
If you think he may have just said that without meaning it, how about that: a couple of month later, he offered me to buy the white edition of the gi at a very small price — because it had a blue ink line that prevented it from being sold. And again, he made damn sure I received the package and everything was well. Best Support. Ever.
The most remarkable thing about the Spring Gi is probably the stitchings — or rather, the most unremarkable thing. Most gis use colored seams for contrast, but this one uses same-colored ones. This gives the gi a very homogeneous and solid appearance — almost minimal, if not for the patches.
The patches themselves are rather tasteful but there are lots of them: one on the each shoulder, one on the chest, one on the lower back and a fifth one on the pants. The chest one is a stylized pelican while the 4 others are the E Nois logo. I can’t help to think that some of those patches are just there because it’s a norm and not for conscious design reasons.
And they are actual patches not embroideries — though they are holding on perfectly. Sadly this cannot be said of everything on this gi.
Wear & Tear
While I find the gi’s design excellent, I sadly can’t say the same of the overall fabric quality. I’ll preface this next part by saying that as usual, I wrote this review after several month of regular use, so that may have to be taken into account.
The materials themselves are very solid and I had no tears whatsoever. The gi shrunk a little bit after the first wash but has remained perfectly steady since then; that would normally be a quality I value a lot since most of my other gis tend to shrink after a while. Unfortunately, I bought A4 sized gis and they are not exactly my size (the old dead spot thing) — the length is fine but they are too wide.
The color is durable but somehow it stains very easily — and since our mats are not as clean as they should be, I often end up looking dusty.
Another pearl wave jacket in my collection, another gi top that feels the same. A little rough to the touch at the start of the session, it loosens up after a while and becomes perfectly wearable.
But for some mystery reason, this jacket feels incredibly warmer than any other I’ve had. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t feel heavier at all; I just sweat a lot more in it. So much actually that I kept it out of my summer rotation — but it’s a main part of the winter one. I even considered taking it out for skiing.
I have a love/hate relationship with these pants; let me tell you about the hate part first.
See, the Spring Gi comes with this custom draw string system that prevents them from sliding out. That in itself is a good idea — the ones on my VHTS came out once and it was a major pain in the ass. The problem stems from the way this system works. This is how it looks like:
And this is how you pull on strings to tie them, as Rener Gracie can explains if you have 45 minutes to spare:
And this is what happens when you pull too firmly on the strings:
Oops. The sliding-out-draw-strings-problem is totally worth addressing, I’m just thinking there may be more elegant solutions. At some point there was a product called Z Strings out there which seemed good, but it looks like they went out of business. I guess another part of the problem is that the Spring Gi’s draw strings are pretty thick ropes, making it easier to rip the protection.
I personally can’t see why someone would want ropes instead of flat strings. I want to tie my pants at the start of the session and then forget about them, but ropes make that impossible. they come off a lot more than regular strings and feel clunky around the waist.
But while I don’t enjoy tying those pants, they are an absolute joy to wear. After using solely ripstop pants for a while, getting back to cotton made me realize how much more comfortable they are. Aside from the fabric, the crotch is reinforced — I feel like this has become a standard now, and I like that.
The Spring Gi will attract the eyes of the savy, but without standing out too much — a balance in design that is hard to achieve. As the A4 model was slightly too big for me I cannot blindly recommend it because I still think cut is the most important criteria; but if you’re a “standard sized person”, É Nóis is a great option.
And if you’re not, I encourage you to keep an eye on their website; the t-shirt designs are among the best I’ve seen and they frequently run discounts — a definitive source for trend setting jiu jiu-jitsu apparel.