So since I re-started training in Karate, i have had experience of 3 Gi's. For the short period of time i've trained that's quite excessive; but let me explain.
I decided that I would spend a little more on the Gi than i had when I trained Karate previously; simply because back then on my income it wasn't an option for me. But I had always wanted a Shureido Gi; so that's where I started. Unfortunately with the shipping time, and needing a Gi sooner rather than later I looked elsewhere and firstly ordered the Venum Absolut Gi. https://euro.venum.com/en/venum-absolute-karate-gi.html
Not a traditional brand in Karate but I really liked the look of it, combined with pretty fast shipping (2 days) considering it was coming from the EU, and a pretty reasonable price in comparison with other high end Gi's I thought i'd give it a go.
When it arrived I have to say the fabric was amazing, quality was spot on. It felt much stronger and more like BJJ Gi's that i'd worn more recently. It had a japanese cut which I also liked. The patterned lining was also rather beautiful.
Unfortunately on closer inspection my excitement was short lived. There was marks on the product, similar to makeup and dirt. Even what looked like paint on the drawstring bag. I expect this was a customer return that possibly hadn't been checked correctly. So sadly I had to send that back. On a positive note, their customer service was great and I they provided a prepaid return label. Upon the receiving it back I received my refund within a day. Sometimes things go wrong, to me what matters is what a company does to put it right, and in this instance they were great.
Upon joining the Goju Ryu club i'm training at, I found out that part of the joining fee included a Blitz Student Gi. https://www.blitzsport.com/blitz-adult-cotton-student-karate-suit-7oz
Most people who have ever trained in Karate have likely worn one of these at some point, and like Ronseal it does what it says on the tin. A nice touch was that it was embroidered with the club logo. It's lightweight which with some of the temperatures we've seen recently, was much needed, and a perfect Gi for someone just starting out.
Now with the Student Gi having my Goju Ryu club embroidery, wearing this for my Shotokan training and particularly the grading videos felt a little wrong to me. Could just be me, but I wanted a Gi that was for Shotokan. Which led me to the Blitz White Diamond. I found this Gi on Amazon for £31.99 https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B003OB3PY0/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Which considering it costs £68.99 on the Blitz site seemed like a no brainer.
This Gi came with 2 pairs of trousers, on for Kumite and one for Kata. The quality of it far exceeds the student Gi, and it feels very solid. Not as soft and durable feeling as the Venum Gi, but at £31.99 it was difficult to even consider any other options.
When I trained in BJJ I wore 2 Gi's, a Tatami Estillo which was fairly common those days, and a Gameness limited edition of which I cannot remember the name, but it was truly something else. The inner lining was black and gold and could be considered a work of art on its own. I do wish that Karate Gi's were available with nice touches like that. But my feel is that it isn't traditional, hence nobody has brought out a product like that. Maybe one day...
Overall, knowing what I know now I would probably make the same decisions again, with the exception of the Venum Gi. Simply because for the price, the White Diamond is so good it makes it hard to justify anything else. The traditionalist in me would still like a Shureido Gi, possibly just to please 20 something year old me who couldn't afford one back then. Maybe I will set that as my reward for hitting a key milestone in my journey.