Michael Akira West is the Owner and Creative Director of 686 Technical Apparel. The following are some of his experiences inside and out of the industry across the globe. *Add Comments at Bottom of Page!
April 30, 2012 Iím in Miami B!t*h
Miami is place I donít come too often. Besides the few times back in the day for Winter Music Conference, itís not on my top places to check out. Donít get me wrong, Iím all about the sun and sea, but this place isnít for me. Well, it is a nice day isnít it?
Maybe you can guess why Iím here for only 24 hours
The 90ís proved to be the stomping grounds for a grip of brands. 686 happened to be one of them with about 300+ other snow specific companies. Towards the turn of the millennium, it dropped to less than a few dozen.
Within the eye-wear industry, it was much more concentrated with Oakley being the clear leader. With most industries, when things became stale, it provided opportunities to create something new and special. Back in the 90ís, Arnette were the ones that broke the Oakley mold and turned things upside down. I remember their Raven model and how forward it was at the time. Working at Bear Mountain I also remember their very first goggle that transcended all lines. To me, it was a breakthrough in the marketplace. A few years later, one of the worldís largest optics company at the time, Bausch & Lomb acquires Arnette and things suddenly started changing. However, it doesn't stop there, Bausch & Lomb is then acquired by Italian mega corp, Luxottica and finally things start to unwind.
A new generation is about to start in the optics industry as VZ (Von Zipper) and Electric are formed. (Dragon already broke off from the Oakley mold in the early 90ís led by my friend, Will Howard.) VZ forms a partnership with Billabong, but Electric decides to do their own thing. Led by the trio from San Clemente: creative mastermind, Kip Arnette, marketing maven, Mike Carter and all around operational wizard, Bruce ďthe BirdĒ Beach. They gather a strong team of heads and move forward , their way. The year was 2000 and man did they have a crazy ride ahead of them. A lot of incredible things happened along the way, including being acquired by the Stone in 2008, which was then acquired by Luxury conglomerate, PPR last year. (I know this may seem confusing to someone reading this for the first time, but the point is that the ride is just beginning). Electric has blazed their own path, which in the end was to have fun and create something special. All defined by their logo, the VOLT.
On my way back from meetings in San Diego, I stopped by to have lunch with Bird at Electric. They just moved into their new offices down the street from their original. Take a quick look, all open and all custom build outs
Birdís office is filled with some memorable images. I remember this one
The ones and only, Donny, Cartz, Kip and the Birdman
Just when I thought Coachella was in my rear view, Iím back
Well not really. . . I didnít make it to Indio, but I did make it to Palm Springs
WHY? Cuz of this little tram to another world. Donít look down
Can you believe its over 100 degrees at the base and at the top itís in the mid 50ís, with all this snow on the ground?
My homie, Shawn tells us where weíre at
I think Iím confusing myself. Long Valley 3 miles or 1.7?
Lions, Tigers and Bears oh my
Thereís a reason why Iím here and it has to do with getting my body ready to climb the highest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Iíve never done anything remotely like this so I guess these practice runs are a good thing. Hiking poles, check
Snow shoes, check
Mr. Snowman, check
April 18, 2012 Mikeís Top 6
Alright, this is the last Coachella mashup for 2012. My top 6 performances:
#1 - M83
#2 - Dre x Snoop x Tupac
#3 - The Rapture
#4 - Santigold
#5 - SBTRKT
#6 - Frank Ocean x Tyler
April 17, 2012 Day and Night
Each year when I come to Coachella Valley Music Festival, every experience is different. 2012 to me was no exception as I managed to get through it with limited causalities to my body. In fact, I actually slept a few of the nights. The only issue is that I had such a good time that I forgot to document my experiences. Oh well, Iím sure by this time youíve either heard or seen it all. So instead of boring you, Iíll show you some limited snippets of the Day and Night of what happened in the Valley they call Coachella. Damn I forgot to paint my car this year
If you come to the festival, riding a bike is probably one of the most smartest things you can do
I think I found my cruiser for next year
Only the brave: Tent City
Coming to Coachella is only part of the experience. The side parties are where itís at. Unfortunately, this is the only thing I remember from the side gigs- -pool parties with sharks, sorry
Coachella brings in massive corporate sponsors across the globe. Buy, buy buyÖ On the flip side I ran into my friend, Shane from Salt Lake City at the KROQ house. I think Shaneís going to run for president one day. For now, heís into his new startup called Beacon. What you got there Shane?
Watch out Jambox
Off to more happenings: Toby reminds me of something something
DAY- A view to remember Flashing lights
NIGHT-Until next year
April 16, 2012 One Long Weekend
Yes I did
April 13, 2012 The # Of the Beast
April 12, 2012 Give Back
About 20 years ago, I was this inexperienced student attending the University of Southern California. On the weekends, I drove 3 hrs away and worked at Bear. The idea of 686 started with a passion to do something different and fun. The seed was planted from one of my professors at USC telling me to take a chance while I was young. The rest was history. Ever since then, Iíve tried to set an example that anything is possible with the right mindset, people and passion. Coming back to USC to rap out with the kids is one example of doing this. Tommy looks the same as he did 20 years ago
Some things stay the same
While others donít
On my way to Taper Hall
to the Front
Give back your way (even though you looked goofy in those photos)
April 11, 2012 Support Independents
As most of you know, Iím a huge supporter of people doing it on their own. One prime example is Rob Meyers. Iíve known Rob for quite some time. From his early days at Square One to his long tenure at Four Star/Program to the Bond venture and somewhere between Quik and DC, his true passion lies within SLVDR. What are you thinking about next?
Around December, I received an email from my good friend, Chad at Malakye about a heli trip that he was organizing with Karl at IS eyewear, the heads at Snowboard Canada, Transworld, Billabong, Stepchild, NRI and Endeavor/Airhole. After a bunch of lame ass excuses from me that I couldnít go, I finally committed and 4 months later Iím finally here! Iíve been to quite a few heli expeditions over my lifetime, but this one was definitely a different experience. Iíll show you why shortly. For now, its time to make sure everything is safe and sound. It all starts with the safety guide showing us how the heli works in case of an emergency
Itís been a dangerous year for avalanches. Interior BC, which is where Iím at, has been the hardest hit with fatalities. Just a few weeks ago, the last heli trip I took in Snow water, lost two people. This time around Iím actually thinking of wearing a helmet. However for now I brought some extra reinforcements like this Airbag backpack courtesy from Pete at NRI
Everyoneís hyped and geared up to get going including Mr. Party Snake
Anytime you come into the wild, it's game on. The mountains can be the most beautiful or scariest things youíve ever seen. Where Iím at, there are no lift lines, groom runs or man-made trails. As experienced as I am, anything can happen and I never discount the fact that it can happen to me or my homies. Check it for yourself.
Something you donít want to be next to
In between the best sessions of my life, we had some downtime. Ready set
Until next time
Love and Peace
April 9, 2012 Oh Canada
Iím somewhere between HERE
Flying long haired masked men
and somewhere over THERE
April 5, 2012 Spring-a-ling
Springís here and so are our goods. Check a peek at some of our tops available at a stockist near you. OR come here and get the entire collection The lightweight Encore Jacket
Another episode of Liam Gallagher's, "The Mad Ones" just dropped this past week. This time it's chronicles the 686 faction team across the Alps of Austria. Come along for the ride with the whole 686 familia-Patrick McCarthy, Forest Bailey, Ryan Paul, Atsushi Hasegawa, Marco Fleichtner, Sebi Geiger and Ben Thomas-Javid