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Fast Five - Art of Collaboration with Mike West, founder of 686

September 17, 2019

Mike West goes his own way, and it works. The founder of 686 and partner at NRI Distribution, he’s been in business for decades and pioneered brand collaborations in his space. He brought Levi’s denim into technical outerwear, New Balance into snowboard boots, created a Toyota Scion concept car, and the list of really big hits goes on. These are brand collaborations where his competitors aren’t able to jump on too. It’s just not an option for them. So here’s Mike’s fast five on some good and bad of the collaboration:

When it’s done right:

1. It can open new categories or distribution
2. Create positive disruption
3. Changes perception quickly
4. Sell product at higher price point
5. It’s really FUN!

When it’s done wrong:

1. Can dilute a brand (too much is not good)
2. Negative disruption (It can totally disrupt internal systems)
3. Point of no return (too many out there and cannot fulfill the next big thing)
4. Shitty partners (the best collab is when both partners equally are engaged)
5. Complexity in legal matters, intellectual property, distribution, administration can all cause major headaches and make it not worth the effort.