As I’d been hearing from several sources, Joe provided excellent customer service, sending me a series of polite, professional emails confirming the size (I am 5'7 and 65kg, so bought a 4, which is equivalent to an A2) and giving me shipping details. He even offered to call me (from the US) to further discuss sizing options. Though I said it was fine to email, I was impressed he was willing to do that, and judging by what I've read other people say, its something he's done a lot. There were a few problems getting the right shipping through the MatRat site, so eventually I just went through PayPal: the gi is only $80, so even with $37 shipping to the UK, it remains a reasonable price. In English money, that’s just under £60 total. This is significantly cheaper than other gis of a similar quality: Atama, Koral etc are all well over $100 (see Smash Pass for comparative pictures of Padilla, Atama and Koral, going through collar width, reinforced areas etc), and then you have the shipping on top. I can think of numerous people who have paid more than £100 for a Koral.
My gi arrived shortly afterwards (I was on holiday at the time, but I don’t think it was more than a week or so), securely wrapped. I didn’t get hit by any taxes, so my expenditure stayed at just £60. Inside was not only my gi, but some kind of grip exercise device Joe had thrown in (that would normally cost about $5.95), a Padilla & Sons patch, and a list of washing instructions (cold wash only, drip dry, avoid using the spin drier). Washing it once at 30 degrees C seemed to shrink it sufficiently, as my gi has fit well ever since.
It was thinner and lighter than I expected (but still strong), and also comfortable – there was none of the abrasion I get from the Katama. It is also not overly doused in patches, which is definitely a plus point: I prefer a gi that is as plain as possible. I haven't noticed any wear so far, after six months of use.
Perhaps most importantly, despite the good quality (Smash Pass, backing everything up with pictures, rates it as on the same level as Atama and Koral, if not better), its cheap. $80 in the US, and as mentioned, cost me less than £60 despite shipping to the UK: the single weave is even less, at $70. Also, Joe gives great customer service:
There are lots of other glowing reviews across the net, such as NHB Gear, and Joe also made a post on The Underground. As those tend to disappear (I think you have to be a pro member to see older threads), I'll quote his two posts on that thread:
My fabrics are manufactured per my specifications. The Gold Weave fabric in white and blue are a weight of around 700 to 770 grams per meter at 60" inches wide. My single weave fabric is around 650 grams per meter.
From an engineering standpoint tear values can be set by applying weight to a sample piece of fabric to determine the point where it will tear or begin to fatigue. Comparing the two fabrics that we make, the single weave textile is slightly stronger.
The Gold Weave is heavier in weight but has more of an open weave. This results in a softer more pliable feel. My uniform's quality, workmanship and life cycle are equal to the standards of all major manufacturers.(just a little better) :-)
Regarding [...] our collars, [...] we came up with a design standard after receiving numerous requests about the super thick rope like collars that are really uncomfortable and start to fray after a few years.
Please call me personally anytime with questions or comments about our products.
Special discounts to active military and law enforcement. Thanks to everyone for giving us the opportunity!
He followed that up with:
[...] Our single weave is more of a tapered fit across the chest, but not too constricting.
Our Gold Weave model Jacket has one piece pattern and has a shorter skirt length. Our cut gives enough room in the chest area. I think this is important for mobility. Please check out our website.The pictures give a good reference of overall fit. The Black Hybrid is a 16oz. black canvas training uniform. It is the snug fitting kimono in our product line. For everyday training it is my favorite.(less to grab) :-)
As this is so much cheaper than a lot of the other brands out there, I try and recommend Padilla as often as I can. I plan to buy a single weave next (update: review here), so I can then compare that to my current gold weave: from what I've read on the net, its an equally high quality product. Available to purchase here.