Industry News 1/4/2010

MIKE'S MASH-UP - December Archives


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!



THE BLACK AND WHITE GIG

December 31, 2009

For the past 17 years, I've thrown a year-end get together-party-bash-bender or as I call it, Gig. What better time of the year to bring family, friends, employees and industry heads together and say “thanks” for the support. We theme it each year and somehow have managed to keep the Black and White motif going on for a while. We kinda go all out and bring magicians, caricatures, DJ’s, open bar, taco guy, sushi bar and the infamous Photo Booth to the gig. I want to keep the 500+ people more entertained than just F-d up from all the booze. This year, the invite only party benefited the DJ Hideo Cancer fund. Instead of showing you all the debauchery, I’m going to forgo the party pictures and just show you some snipets of what happened in the Photo booth.

Rule #1, you’re supposed to “pose” when the lights flash. Here’s an example of a crappy photo booth pict.

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Ok, getting better.

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DTA posse doing something

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I wonder how many people can fit in this thing.

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I can’t hear you

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A lot of people didn’t know that there was a TV screen on top of the booth-hence whatever you did “inside” shows to everyone “outside.”

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Damn, that dude with the hat is a jackass.

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Its always interesting when you leave a large Xmas card out with markers so heads can write whatever on.

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Why do people draw the same shit you use to do in elementary school? I have no idea. Until next year-Happy Holidays!

bc


My MUSE
December 30, 2009

People often ask me what “inspires you?” It sounds simple enough, but to me there’s never one thing that gets me going. It’s ever changing and honestly, it’s never the same. In the music world, there’s a little band called MUSE, that I’ve been following for years. In my mind it’s a little band I discovered, but really they are one of the very best ensembles in the world. Since they rarely come to the States, I had to cancel all my plans to attend the gig they had this past weekend at the Universal Amphitheatre…

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To attend KROQ's almost acoustic Christmas

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The funny thing about going back stage is that it’s truly a “scene.” You notice it whenever you enter the room and 90% of the crowd turns to look at you to see who you are. Since I’m definitely not someone important, I‘m only here to say what’s up to a few heads. I guess they are busy doing something or another…

I’m just going to eat my mac and cheese before I head back to my seats.

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I guess the higher the level of credentials the better the food is. From Mac and cheese to …

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They even have a Very Very Green Room, crazy huh?

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Enough, let’s go listen to some music! View from the top

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View from the bottom. If you’ve never had the chance to see 311 live, please check em out.

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A few other standouts were Slightly Stoopid, Phoenix, and Metric. The cool thing is that the Amphitheatre is a relatively a small venue so any seat is a good seat.

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Shhhhh and now the main event. Please welcome MUSE.

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Matthew, Christopher and Dominic doing it their way.

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I can’t pinpoint just one thing why I absolutely love this band, but Matthew’s incredible falsetto is a trademark in what they do. It’s a mix of electronic-rock that reminds me of Queen meets Hendrix meets New Order that differentiates them from the rest.

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Big ups to Ron, KROQ and the boyz at MUSE. See you next year!

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The Lineup
December 29, 2009

I stopped by “The Library Showroom” in the Cooper Building to give Jeremy a hard time on something I already forgot about. Interestingly enough, the new Lineup was getting sorted out. Can’t show you too much, but maybe you see something “special” in the mix.

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Hey, I wonder what this is, maybe…?

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My First
December 28, 2009

Most of you know the story of how I started the biz. (I went to school and part of my project was to do a plan on what I wanted to do when I graduated) Each week, we had guest speakers that came back and told “their story” on what they did. When I think back, it was really the only thing I remembered from school that made a difference in going to class. Whenever you get a chance to listen to people that went through all the ups and downs of doing their own thing, it’s kinda inspiring. Picture a 20 year old sitting in class, it was overwhelming. Well, one of the speakers was a dude named Steve. He graduated years earlier but was the first person I could relate to (A student who went to school, found snowboarding as an outlet, became one of the best big mountain riders in the world, then started a store in Mammoth called Wave Rave.) I was like “Shit! Man you can go to school and NOT become a banker, lawyer, corporate dude, and actually go into making a living doing what you already love to do?!” Sounds a little silly, but it was a big revelation as a kid with no experience. I was already making T’s, Beanies and Denim in LA as a creative outlet. Once I met Steve and told him what I was doing and my ideas in riding, he was like “Great, let me order a few things and see how it goes.” So in 1992, Wave Rave in Mammoth Lakes, Cali was the very first shop I sold to (as well as actually the first to pay me!) Check the pict of Wave Rave over 17 years later.

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Now check the picture of Steve today. Mr. Mountain-man has mellowed out a bit and is a true pioneer in the snow industry (The premier core stockist in the Western US, if not the entire nation). Big ups to Steve on giving me that first shot and STILL being a great partner.

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“Ho Ho Ho Ho…
December 25, 2009

…You’ll shoot your eye out!” No matter how old I get, I always watch this movie on a day like today. Merry Christmas y’all and to y’all a good night!




GRAPHITE
December 24, 2009

We’ve traditionally kept all our services in house, meaning everything you see was thought of, made by, shipped by, invoiced and collected by us. Along the way, I’ve met a grip of talented people and firms that really do shit well. Case in point are my friends at Graphite Design. They are helping us do something pretty special and I decided to stop by and say what’s up.

Andy, are you ok? Oh, you’re just on the phone making some big deals.

How about you Sam? Oh, you’re on the phone too (as well as my camera is out of focus)

I’ll just help myself to some Incase products you guys worked on, thanks!

While I’m at it, I’ll take one of these Where The Wild things Are Girl decks.

I don’t think Sam likes it when I snoop around, take pictures of the fam and mash it out to the world. Don’t worry, no one's gonna see this.

I once saw something like this in Vietnam, but the dude also had his wife and 3 kids on the same bike!

Blah, blah, strategy, blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, branding, blah, blah, blah.

As my man, Lyor Cohen would say…


New Headquarters?
December 23, 2009

I think most people know that I’m looking to move our offices back to LA.  It's not because I’m on the road for about 2 hours of my 18 hour day of work, it's mostly because our roots are from here. After being in biz for 17 years, you learn that moving sucks! So next time we move, I want to make sure it’s our last (we’ll see). The other thing is that I want a place that has “character.” I’m not into a traditional biz park with new everything. I’m more into taking something that’s been ignored and then turning it into a place we can call home. The problem is that it takes a hell of a lot of work to do so, I’ll give you one example of a place I’ve been eyeing. This joint is an abandoned hospital.

From the outside, it doesn’t look too bad. What is that large pole vent sticking out?

Oh, that’s the vent from the incinerator from the basement. You know the place where they used to burn the dead bodies…

Inside, well, it’s a little worse than the outside. That’s my broker, Warren, with the head lamp! Shhhh, I think I heard something?

Oh snap, it was just a few pigeons. I guess this is the remains of what they do over the years.

It kinda gave me the chills when I saw that the beds were left in the rooms. If the walls could talk… Oooook, I think we’ll keep looking elsewhere.




Almost Xmas
December 22, 2009

Like I said before, it’s always Xmas when something arrives on my desk. I’m back from Canada country and the heads at PF sent me some goodies. What could this be?

Ok, some of those PF high top joints in metallic silver and bronze.

I‘m digg’n the bronze in Italian leather

Hell yeah, don’t you love it when you get something that you really need? I was going to buy something like this during my travels, but I think this will work even better. Thanks BD

#3




Canada Eh?
December 21, 2009

We’ve been peddling our goods in Canada for close to 14 years. I remember the days when we used to hand carry our stuff over the border, borrow a car from a buddy (we didn’t have enough $ to rent a car) and surprise certain stockists. Back then, no one knew who we were in the states, let alone Canada. However, this didn’t stop us in showing heads what we were about. The thing about Canada is that they hate Americans. JK, but the truth is that they believe in Canadian brands and the people behind them. We learned quickly if we were to get into any doors, we had to become like a Canadian brand. This included making products that would withstand foul weather storms and having the right team in place.  I’m not saying that we made shit up, I’m saying that we had to provide the service they would expect, including being able to speak French in the East, use Canadian currency and have an office/warehouse in the country. Fast forward to today and I think we’ve come a long way. Canada is our second largest market and we owe a lot of it to our team in BC. The crappy thing is that I don’t get up there as much as I should. Over the weekend, I did just that. I can’t tell you exactly where, however its next to this little town called HOPE (you know the place that dude was from that murdered his model girlfriend...he actually cut her fingers and teeth off to try and avoid police identifying her)

View from the outside, pretty corporate huh?

It’s a team effort to get things in and out fast. There’s a few heads that really help make it happen. Meet Jake, he’s responsible for the day-to-day ops. I have no idea what the hell you're doing though…

Yes, you are old school.

The lead of the joint is a dude named Pete. Before P met us a while back, he used to have a full head of hair. Now look at what we’ve done.

I always love checking out what people have in their office. Pete told me that this is an actual flyer that got dropped from the planes during Nazi Germany. What it says, I have no idea.

Yes, that’s a 5/5 wetsuit with a hoody, booties and whatever else you need to be in frozen ice surf. Canadians are dedicated, no doubt.

That’s what I’m talking about; heli boarding somewhere in the interior.

Looks funny today, but I had this board. When I saw Bert Lamar doing those reverse nose slides (yes, he put his hand down) I had to have it.

Nice belt RDJ

Ok, that’s enough chattering, I came to check out the newly organized warehouse. We have this sign at every one of our warehouses...Safety first!

I don’t know why the hell I have to wear these, how do they look?

Talk about breathing room

The biggest improvement we made to increase efficiency is adding these little puppies.

To get these things

Out to this area and to our Stockists. Heeeeee yaaaaaaaah-Get moving now!

On a side note, have you ever wondered how the Olympic committee comes up with their characters? They even named one of them after my right hand man. Oh well, maybe we’ll never know.



FREE 4 ALL…Fridays – COOL AID
December 18, 2009


Kids, watch what you drink…




CHAOS, literally…
December 17, 2009

We had our 1st annual warehouse sale this past weekend. One word...CHAOS. To be honest, we were going back and forth on actually doing this thing. I know a lot of “other” companies do this each season, but we like to keep inventory tight and let the pro's (retail) do it. The specialty retailer is the back bone to our industry and our goal is to support the reason why we’re here. In the end, we pulled the trigger on lots of sales samples and past seasons product's. Welcome.

I guess word got out and a “few thousand” heads stopped by. (Over 4,000 people rolled in from who knows where) Where the hell does this line start? I think a quarter mile down that way…

Crowd control

What did you say?!

I know it ends somewhere?

The view from here sucks

Ok, now I can see the light. The end is near, almost to the front.

To ease the pain, we had a DJ spinning, did product tosses and gave away tacos and drinks to some very patient shoppers.

Typically on warehouse flyers, it says NO backpacks, NO strollers and NO bathrooms. (or in other words, get in and get the hell out fast!) If you're dedicated enough to wait in line for hours, why not provide a haven for the bladder? Sounds simple enough, but people came up to me and thanked me dearly for having these. The shitty (no pun intended) thing was that these babies don’t hold enough water for thousands of your friends. Check out Julie with the matching gloves to match the shirt to match the trashcan of who knows what! Out of order for a few hours...sorry.

When you finally get inside, hopefully you’ll find something you’ll like. View from top.

Some happy campers.

Everyone, I mean everyone at the office helps out. Put on that Ugly yellow shirt and work damnit!

Who’s that guy? Get back to work will you!



Sweet Tooth
December 16, 2009

Yes I am. I don’t know what it is, but I love deserts. Something about the tingle on the tongue when you take that first bite of chocolate. Shit, of the four different jobs I've had in my life, two of them involved something sweet. If you're ever on Beverly, stop by MILK and maybe you’ll get the same feeling I do.

Decisions, decisions.

Gelato or Ice Cream?

How cute, baby style caramel apples.

These look different than the poppers I had in Mexico.

Hurry up Mike, eat that thing, will you?




DRIVE-BY’S
December 15, 2009

Today we had a grip of drive-by’s at the office. It’s all good when you get to catch up with some old friends (and you don’t have to drive anywhere!). Danny stopped by to catch up on some one’s and two’s. What’s happening Mr. Kass.

I like dem shades you got there.

Oh, I guess it’s one of those “special” frogskins that Grenade did. Where do I get me some of dat? Oh, I think you know someone on the inside huh?

Danny was stoked on the new things that are going on with Fuel TV.  You know the “The Adventures of Danny and the Dingo”.   He was telling me that they are the first show on the network to have a HUGE banner on the Fox lot. I think Mr. Murdoch’s gonna love that.

Speaking about love...What do you think about his murdered out Tahoe? D got it from Mr. Dyrdek for a bunch of $1 bills. Funny thing was that inside it still had leftover hay from the mini horse, of course of course.

The good folks at Magic/Slate rolled by. How’s it Katie and Ron? It's funny how things intersect in life. Before I started the biz a long time ago, I worked for one of the first true “urban” companies called Cross Colours.  I was merely a runt in the marketing dept and interestingly enough Ron also worked there. 18 years later, we meet again. This time he’s the main man at Magic sales.

Long time friends and freestyle DJ’s, Tony Jr. and the one and only HIDEO said hello. (Cita, how the hell did you get in this pict?) HIDEO’s been fighting this cancer thing for almost a year. 10 chemo treatments later, while astonishing doctors, he still has a smile on his face. As my man H would say, “live life.”

BC native-Endeavor/Airhole Front man and storm chaser, Max came down to LA to take care of random things. Smile for the camera.

Sorry Max, Browner kinda looks like you here.




Midwest in the house
December 14, 2009

“Where you from?” “I’m from LA,” “ I rep the NY.” I don’t know what it is, but most Left and Right coasters tend to forget that there are a lot of great things happening in the middle. Case in point, 686 stockist partner, MODA3, located in the heart of Milwaukee, bleeds the snow-skate-street-sneaker-art culture. You can check what's going on with the crew at Moda3 by peeping their blogspot here

Midwest team captain and Empire Collective head, Scott, makes shit happen. From starting the Picnic In The Park series to rep’n the best independent brands in the industry (686, Stepchild, Elm, Flux, and Bluebird), Mr. Ladwig hustles. Here’s one example with the Moda3 family. Big ups y’all.




FREE 4 ALL Fridays – OFFICE SPACE
December 11, 2009

If you count the time most people spend at work, it can be a great part of your life. If I personally count the time I spend at the office, it's ridiculous (I might as well have my bed next to my desk). So doesn’t it make sense to create an environment that suits the culture you live? I think so. The Coolhunter has shown some neat examples of just this. Post Panic in Amsterdam has a creative way of getting things done in the meeting room. B-level seating and star fish fluorescent lighting are just some of the ideas.

It goes on and on and on...

Fashion group Escada unveils their new headquarters in Germany. I think you can see the DNA in the gold trimming.

A floating gold staircase, no problem (Despite having recently filed bankruptcy, everything else looks great!).

A little more my style; modern with a twist of fun. Olgilvy’s Guangzhou (yes, China) offices show some theme park fun.

When can I move in?



Wahooooooooooooos
December 10, 2009

When I was going to USC back in the early 90’s, I used to go to this incredible taco joint called Wahoo's. I really had no idea what they were about, except that they made the very best fish tacos you could get. Mix it with fresh seasoned rice and beans, you have heaven on a plate. Fast forward 17 years, they are still going strong (not to mention they just re-opened the USC location). Over the years, I’ve gotten to know the good heads at Wahoo's-; from Ed to Ed to Mingo to Ron to Wing.  They are more friends than industry affiliates. This afternoon, I stopped by their offices in Santa Ana to talk about some random things that you may see coming real soon...
 

Yes, Mr. Wayne, how may I help you?

Ed and I went to go have lunch at their South Coast location.   It's only been open a few years and it’s one of their best performing locations. It was way too crowded during lunch time, so I waited until everyone finished and then snapped this. The casual vibe is similar at each place, you’ll find lots of industry sticker-POP-product hits at the joints.

A friendly staff member greets and takes your order. Surprise, it's Wahoos 21st b-day. The great thing about Wahoo's is that they also deliver your food at your table. Something special for a fast casual restaurant.

There are 3 brothers that own and operate Wahoo's. Despite soliciting from countless corporations and huge restaurant conglomerates, Wahoo's remains independent and strategically centered to do lots of great things. I can’t think of any other restaurant type company that’s supported the Action Sports industry the way Wahoo's has done. From the USASA to up and coming athletes, the Wahoo's family has been there to show love. Right now, Ed’s showing his love to that Pepsi deal he just signed.

Guess who stopped by in his “corporate attire”?  Nice to see you, Ron… Mr. Camero has been around almost as long as myself. I forget how many things he’s currently doing, except that he’s been a big help for the Wahoo's family. Each and every product donation, POP and sticker you see has Ron’s name all over it.
 

The “face” of Wahoo's, in terms of what the industry knows, is the other brother, Wing. Hey Wing, I like how your hair flows to one side in this picture…

I think this is the first time in all the year's I’ve known you that I’ve seen you behind a desk. I know you probably have some sort of charity event or a new location you have to attend, but it's always great to catch up!
 



SKID ROW
December 9, 2009

No I’m not talking about the band Skid Row, I’m referring to LA’s very own Skid Row in downtown LA. It’s actually east central LA near 5th street where thousands of homeless people make their home. Since LA borders up to the good and bad, literally each street is different, you get to know your way around. Back when I was manufacturing in downtown (YES, I actually made my first outerwear piece in LA), my cutting guy was smack dab in Skid Row. Back then, it was super sketchy. I remember trying to drop off the rolls of nylon fabric I purchased from Rose City textiles in Portland and Polar fleece from Malden Mills back east; the minute I parked my truck on the street, I had my rolls ganked from two different homies. Today, it's been cleaned up a bit (Cartoon’s joint is down the street) and they’ve made some creative moves to showcase the beauty within. One example is the Skid Row Photography Club. Anyone can join, even if you don’t have a camera.

Explore

Life can lead you in many directions.

Speaking about directions, I was late to our NB686 gig at Blends down the street.

I’ll spare you the pictures, as you’ve probably seen them already from the blogs. All I got to say is this is how we do it in LA, find an alley next to the best sneaker boutique in downtown and call it your own for the night.




Surprise!
December 8, 2009

Every time I come back from a trip, I can expect a lot of things on my desk. Besides the usual bulk of mail, checks to sign, hundreds of e-mails to respond to; it's nice to see a few things that brighten my day. Jared from Vans sent me a little box of goodies. Since I’m sample size 9, I have no problem being the RD dept for everyone.

Vans and the ninjas at Airblaster did a little love making and this is what came out of it.

Ok, I’ll try…

Talking about staying wild, Shaun and the Neff family, sent some my way.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot what else showed up on my desk… I’ve been in this game for a while and over the years, I’ve learned a lot. What I mean is that one of the most important parts of running a biz is knowing the Intellectual Properties that make up your brand. It sounds simple enough, but a lot of owners and operators tend to forget that they need to protect their shit on a global level. Trademarks, Patents, and Copyrights are all highly valuable intangibles that are the “backbone” to your business. Back in the day, I learned my lesson when I failed to do the simple things at the beginning. After spending a lot of time and money learning, while working with some of the best IP attorneys in the biz, I ran into another hurdle when the biggest electronic company in the world (hint, it’s a Japanese company) infringed on a mark and logo I had the rights to. As a young kid with a small growing biz and not much to lose (or so I thought...), what did I do? I sued their ass. I won’t go into the details, but there are three things I took away from the experience. One: large companies have a tendency to use their legal muscle to “play the game” (Hell, they have their attorneys on retainer, why not use it!). Two: having the legal right is one thing, but policing and fighting over it is another. (Get ready to spend, spend, spend.) Three: pick your battles. (BTW, I won this battle)

I’ve received these types of letters from different companies several times. Shit, I’ve even sent them to a few. However, I’ve tried to keep a certain level of integrity behind the purpose. Why play the game just to spend time and $ on legal billings? Sounds simple enough, but sometimes people don’t see it that way. In this case, we did our homework years ago and know exactly what our rights are. Getting this letter doesn’t come a surprise considering the “the establishment” has changed quite a bit from the days I remember.

Oh yeah, what am I going to do? Lets just say you’ll be kept dry this winter from all the snow we’re supposed to get.




Roach Coaches?
December 7, 2009

Remember back in the day when you were feeling hungry after you went out all night? Besides hitting up Denny’s or some other late night diner, there were the taco trucks, or ast we called them “Roach Coaches.” The menu wasn’t all that good and the places you found them weren’t the most hygenic. Shit, that was yesterday, today we got options in LA. First it was KOGI (think Kimchi + Tacos), now it's almost whatever you want. I’ve been hanging around Abbott Kinney in Venice and I guess that’s where a lot of it goes down. I think I feel like Sushi tonight. Fishlips anyone?

It feels like I’m at the sushi bar, although there’s no stools here.

I’ve never seen a TV menu at my local sushi joint.

I was still hungry. How about some Indiana Jones?

Why not get some genuine Venice style hot dogs the Dogtown way?

Simple and to the point

What better way to eat while being green? First eat your LA-style poutine, then use it to fill the tank of your car.

Call me old fashion, but I’m down with the Chili Cheese.

That’s what I’m talking about, Breakfast at night.

Thanks Buttermilk.

Interestingly enough, I ran into T-dub alum, Shanti (SOS).

Besides keeping busy with just about everything, she made the first dedicated website to the LA Roach Coach movement. However, the terms she uses is “Curbside Dining.”  Uh ok, now I know exactly where I can eat. Thanks!


Final Stop-T-to the P-E
December 4, 2009

Every time I travel, it seems like I mash about the types of food joints I run into. If you would have asked me a few years ago what I think about eating, I would probably have said it’s just something I need to do fast VS. something I enjoy spending time with-tasting-learning-experiencing. I guess my girl has helped me understand and appreciate this process better, although I still have a lot to learn. When I arrived in TPE (Taipei, Taiwan), my stomach was telling me to do something or else, so I hopped into the lounge and got me something. I’ve never seen a NOODLE PAGER before.

Riiiiiiiiing, riiiiing, it's ready for pick up! Hmmmmmmmmm good.

I always wondered why these things taste so good?

Some kind of goodness wrapped around peanuts. Why they don’t have these in the states when I drink my beer, I have no idea.

In TPE, I had the usual meetings such as finalizing our 10/11 production schedules, the 11/12 protos (yes this early) and fabrications as well as some special projects that typically take a long time to do. Instead of showing you all this stuff, I’d rather do some drive-by’s on the other things that happen outside our TPE office (in no particular order). Getting around TPE happens typically via 2 methods of transportation, Motor scooters or Taxi. Taxi’s are so abundant, they are everywhere you look.

Sometimes you see Taiwanese ballers rolling around, I guess they like to get their shine on.

If this was LA, this would have been ganked faster than you can say “what the f.”

Speaking of shine, I forgot to include this car I saw in HKG.

Asian culture is diverse in their own ways. There’s always been a strong presence of “pop” music and “cute” images that the mainstream tend to like. Ahhhhhh, how “cute.”

In Vietnam, I once saw a restaurant showing how “cute” these things can taste… that’s another story, I’ll tell later.

Speaking about tasting, lunch at the office tends to go down like this. No need for fancy places that cater to Westerners. Throw some newspaper over the tables and you're good to go.

Dumplings, Noodles and Cutlet hits the spot.

The progressive street culture is alive in TPE. Everyone’s pretty tight and supports each other, which is A BIG difference from other international cities I’ve been to.  NikeGreyOneInvincible and 686 in da house.

So is this new thing Brandon gave me at OPUS? It's getting kinda blurry.

That’s my exit to get some MORE (what else) food. What more can you ask for than Korean BBQ, Taiwan style.

I like mine crispy on the outside, tender inside.

Add some self serve Haagan Dazs, and I think I’m in heaven.

Big ups to my Taiwanese extended family.




Second stop - S to the L
December 3, 2009

Before I head out to Seoul, Korea, I killed some time checking out all the dope stores at the HK airport. Yes, Duty Free does help when it comes to booze.

So does some Gucci

I don’t think you’ll find Bearbricks at LAX, only in HKG

Forgot your digi? No worries, the electronic stores have anything and everything. Maybe they got the new S90?   I love it when they have everything you could want.

Well maybe not…

Ok, now let's get the hell outta here.

Our 686 Korean family goes pretty deep with us. The only thing that sucks about Seoul is the traffic. Arrrrrrg.

I guess they got love for 686 all around the world!

When you drive out of the airport, you see this thing. Don’t ask, I have no idea.

Paul runs it in Korea. He’s our exclusive distributor and took me for a quick shop tour. Hey there P.

It’s a tight community in the winter realm and Paul’s the man behind some of the best brands in snow.

Did you know that about 75% of all snow sales for Korea are done on one street in Seoul? It’s the only place in the world I’ve seen this go down, but it seems to all work out. TJ’s shop, Showcase is one of the best.

There are so many other stockists out there that represent 686. Paul tells me that we’re one of the top 2 brands in Korea. One of his biggest accounts, Ronin, stepped up in a huge way.

Hey, what do you know, they were promoting 686 day that just happened last week.

Outerwear dominated the open format. FYI, they are really into bright colors.

I guess they don’t have too many Americans visit their store, let alone myself saying what's up. The manager was stoked.

In the past we’ve had some “issues” like counterfeiting and grey marketing. This year we added some secret coded hangtags (RFID as well) that show the 686 authenticity.

Korean’s like visuals. What was cool about Ronin was that they were the only ones to showcase our products on flat screens (and only ours...big ups Paul) Ronin riders were modeling the 686 gear in their own way.

Look closer-what a great concept, huh.

It's always nice to see customers trying and buying your products.

What better way to end the shop tour other than some food and….

…drinks, the Korean way.


First stop-H to the K
December 2, 2009

The good thing about traveling around Asia is that Hong Kong is the “hub” for everything. And since I fly with Cathay Pacific, shit's locked down pretty good. I take the night flight outta LA around midnight, spend 15 hours catching up on just about everything except sleep, land in HKG at 7am, then my day starts. Wait, first I gotta clean up before the meetings. Talk about service, they got everything I need at the airport: my own bathroom, shower and all the toiletries. Damn I look like a mess…

People ask me why I’m so involved with vendor relationships. Our supply chain is one of the backbones to biz and although we have a talented team of people that do this, I want to make sure I’m the face that is always there. First stop was to catch up with one of our oldest vendors. Sylvia and her husband run a backpack and bag company. When we started making bags in the mid 90’s, they were one of the first suppliers I hooked up with. In my world, I like to establish great partnerships that benefit each other. We stopped making bags 4 seasons ago, but we’re back in the bag game, starting Fall 2010! Howz it guys.

Let’s just say they make incredible quality bags for some of your favorite brands.

Just like most meetings, we follow up over food. Since I haven’t seen them for a minute, they wanted to take me to a traditional Canton breakfast. Wait, before you use any silverware, they have to “soak” it in hot tea, to make sure shits clean as a whistle.

Ok, now it’s time to eat. It's tradition that the guests pick the food. Since I’m not that daring and trying to be healthier-veggies and light carbs are cool with me.

No, this isn’t part of breakfast. I just had a quick meeting with another vendor for something interesting to come.

HKG is like NYC in the way that there’s lots of energy, it's an international melting pot, and of course,  tall buildings that go and go to who-knows-where.

It’s a different feeling looking down. Yeah, that’s a tunnel under the ocean.

Whenever I stop over in Hong Kong, I always run through TST.

Ditch the taxi-take the train.

Bright lights, big buildings and tons of people. Nathan road mania.

There was some kind of mardi gras thing happening in the streets. Don’t know why the hell they handed this to me.

Maybe Eugene and Justin know what’s up….On second thought, I don’t want to know.

I’m hungry. Let's get some food. Nah, no Russian tonight.

YES! This works.


Around the world in a weekend?
December 1, 2009

Well, not exactly but I’m taking off for a few day(s) to do my Winter follow-up with some of our Asian partners in crime. Surprisingly enough, I arrived early to the airport this time. I was chillin' for a sec and realized that my passport is running out of pages. I think it’s the 3rd time I had to request for more pages (and it's only 5 years old!) Side view.

Most heads don’t know, but I’m dual citizen - US and Japan. The crazy thing is that I can’t even sign my name in Japanese, let alone speak the language. My parents are from Japan and registered me when I was born, which was in Inglewood, Cali - right next to the forum! I mentioned this in past mash-ups, but I wish I learned how to speak the language when I was young. My original US passport was green. The one I have now is blue, maybe next time it will be black on black (probably not)

Besides showing it at Immigration, I’ve never looked at the pages of my passport. Stupid huh… And since I tend to forget what the hell happened yesterday, it’s probably a good reason to see where I’ve been. Narita, Taipei- it's kinda like my second home. Good thing I don’t need a visa!

Australia and Philippines. Two different places that couldn’t be more different. Didn’t spend that much time there, would love to go back sometime.

Russia - One of the most interesting places I’ve been to! The hassle is getting “invited” by the Russian government. Once you’re in, you’re in. All I gotta say is that it's who you know that makes the difference. Big ups to the 686 Russian mafia.

The first time I went to China, the British still had rule over HKG, so it was a little different. Visas were more difficult to get, but now, it's totally different.

Finally, my last blank page. I’m good to go on this trip.




Mash-Up Archives:
November '09
October '09
September '09
August '09
July '09
June '09
May '09
April '09
March '09

January/February '09