When you think of women’s cut gis, what do you think of? Fenom. Yes, there are some great offerings for women from a range of brands – and we thank you! – but there is no doubt that Fenom sets the bar for great-looking, affordable women’s gis. It’s what they do, gis for women and girls and this narrow focus helps them continue to craft better and better fitting gis for you and me (and Slideyfoot).

Fenom Dark Blue Embroidery at Shoulder
Fenom Dark Blue embroidery at shoulder

I’ve had the opportunity to test and review Fenom’s Dark Blue Pearl Weave kimono. While I’ve reviewed Fenom’s Classic Black and their Lotus gis in their slim-cuts, this has been my first chance to try their ‘curvy’ fit. It is brilliant! As I’m still carrying a bit of baby-weight many of my old A1s are a bit tight and ill-fighting, however I’m not tall or broad enough to move up to an A2. Fenom solves this problem by offering a curvy cut, which is akin to half sizes in shoes. The curvy cut gi provides just a little more room particularly in the trousers so that ladies who carry their weight in their lower bodies can still get gi meant for their height. Just one of the ways Fenom keeps innovating for the benefit of their customers. The Dark Blue Pearl Weave retails at $100.00USD and this review is of the A1 Curvy.

The Look

Fenom Dark Blue trousers
Fenom Dark Blue trousers

The Fenom Dark Blue Pearl Weave is a very minimal gi, with a single bit of flourish at the shoulders. On each shoulder there is a somewhat elaborate ‘F’ embroidered patch. These are nicely executed and in my opinion add just enough ‘pizazz’ to maintain a minimal look without being bland. The colour is a rich dark blue and the embroidery is black with white accents. The trousers are ripstop and unembellished apart from a small Fenom-logo patch on the right upper thigh.

Fenom Dark Blue top
Fenom Dark Blue top

The Fit and Performance

I was delighted to have the opportunity to try the Fenom Dark Blue Pearl Weave in curvy fit, as I’m still working on the baby weight, so while I’m bigger here and there, I’m no taller. The following table illustrates the changes in my measurements.

Pre- and Post-partum Measurements

 Pre-Pregnancy20mos Post-Partum
Bust86.4cm/34″93cm/36.6"
Waist68.6cm/27″80cm/31.5"
Hip91.4cm/36″93cm/36.6"
Thigh51cm/20″55cm/21.7"

Thigh measurements at widest point. Waist measurement at narrowest point of torso. Before pregnancy I wore a UK10/27″ jean and a UK8 top, I am currently wearing a UK12/29″ jean and a UK10 top.

Fenom’s curvy fit can be thought of as a half size, as you get with shoes, and it offers a great option for women whose proportions suit a larger size’s weight range, though not the larger height range. In the words of Fenom founder, Triin Seppel:

The whole idea behind the curvy pants is: when we started offering mix and match options, most of the ladies went with A1 top and A2 bottom because they needed more room in the bottom. Instead of having them take the pants to get hemmed, we went ahead and made the shorter but wider version. It is half way to the next size.

A1 top and bottom are the number one seller, followed by A2. 80% of total sales are A1 and A2 (and mix/match in these sizes). By far the biggest mix and match size is A1 top and A1 curvy bottom. From our data, it is not the gi top that determines the best fit, but it’s the pants. Making a jacket .5 inches slimmer or wider does not have as noticeable impact in comfort, but making small changes in pants makes a huge difference how women feel about their gi fit.

I agree that trousers, rather than jackets, seem to be the hardest things to ‘get right’ when it comes to the sizing. For me, the body of the jacket on the Dark Blue is a little big, but the extra room in the trousers makes a perfect fit. At this shape and size, the regular A1 top with the A1 curvy bottoms would be the perfect combination for me.

I love how this company has really listened to, responded to, and evolved with their customers. I’ve long harped on about how brands should offer mix and match to help more women fit better in their gi. Fenom listened. Then they took it further. They listened to their customers, they collected the data and realised that what women really needed was access to ‘half sizes’. I can’t name another brand that has put that sort of risk and effort into tracking and responding to women’s requirements for a great-fitting gi.

Fenom Dark Blue Measurements

Area of Gi
Measurement (cm)
wingspan146
underarm to underarm56
base of collar to hem of skirt69
width of cuff16
outerseam89
front rise18
rear rise20
width of thigh (outer to base of front rise)28

Gi measurements after 3 washes – one warm 60C and 2 cooler 40C. No significant change from pre-washed state.

Comparison with the Lotus Crystal Weave

Lotus v Dark Blue skirt
Lotus v Dark Blue skirt

When setting out to review the Dark Blue Fenom, my goal was to draw comparisons with the Fenom Lotus, as I have worn both of these and, as it happens, the Lotus is Fenom’s top selling gi, so perhaps this comparison can add helpful context for readers. While there are some similarities between the cuts, after discussion with Triin, I understood that this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison as the gi jackets are crafted from two different weaves: the Lotus is a crystal weave; the Dark Blue a pearl weave. The crystal weave is a much softer fabric, while the pearl weave is much rougher.

Lotus v Dark Blue arm length
Lotus v Dark Blue arm length

Softer weaves, like that used with the Lotus, are lovely on the skin. However, softer weaves are ‘looser’ and will move and shrink more over time. This is very clear from the really short arms on my beloved Lotus as compared with the Dark Blue; when worn the Lotus sleeves have shrunk to be several inches above the wrist which really isn’t very fair for training partners! Courser weaves, like that used with the Dark Blue, are tighter and tend to shrink less over time. The stiffness of the pearl weave can also make a jacket the same size and cut of a softer weave feel bulkier than its softer kin. Again, Triin from Fenom:

Many times it is personal preference. Some prefer an armor-feeling gi. Some like really comfy soft feel. Softer material is easier to grab, so we do not recommend it for competition. If you compete you want a real sandpaper gi so the opponent can’t grab you.

Lotus v Dark Blue trousers
Lotus v Dark Blue trousers

Conclusions

It is all about the right tool for the job! Fenom’s curvy and slim fits and mix and match policy allow women to get the best fit for their personal shape. The range of weaves, lets you choose the right feel for how you want to use your gi, for comfy regular training, or for suiting up for competition. As someone whose shape has been through quite a few iterations over the last 3 years of pregnancy and parenthood, I’m personally delighted with the curvy fit which accommodates my height and weight much better than if I just moved up the weight range to an A2. Finally, Fenom-fans should know that Fenom Kimonos will be celebrating their 5th anniversary this May and there’ll be some great surprises coming up!

Disclaimer

All reviews are based on my independent observations. I have no formal qualifications, I am not sponsored by any company and I do not endorse any one brand. If you chose a gi based on my review, please let the manufacturer know that MegJitsu persuaded you. This will not benefit me financially, but can help me to get more gi to review.

Credits

Thanks to Fenom Kimonos for offering me a gi to test and review.