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Mike's Mash | June

June 30, 2010

Mike's Mash Up
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!

June 30, 2010

Yeah, I know, I’ve been on the shoe tip lately- namely women's shoes. I think its cuz they have so many options and are most notably quite inspiring in terms of design. On the other hand, its kinda humorous to see what lengths the ladies will go to in order to “look good.”

Have you seen these puppies on the street?


If you haven’t already, now you have. Nina Ricci, can you please explain why?


Maybe Gaga can actually show us what happens if they're not worn properly. Timber!


The Director
June 29, 2010

"Visionary, open, passionate, the director, multi-talented, iconic, business, New York..." these are just a few things that would best describe Marc Jacobs. Since 1997, Marc has been the creative mind behind the house of Louis Vuitton. So many incredible projects have been coming out of LV in the past decade, including partnerships with Stephen Sprouse, Murakami and even Kanye. If you haven’t noticed, their ad campaigns are equally inspiring. Last season Madonna was the face for Spring and Summer. For 2010, Dutch model, Lara Stone takes her place while famous photographer Steven Meisel makes it all come to life.


The new collection is spawned from the idea of a New Age traveler so an outdoor-nature setting provides the looseness of a young spirited style. Damn, Lara Stone kinda looks like Brigitte Bardot...huh?


Thumbs Up or Down?
June 28, 2010

You know you've done it before. You may not have noticed it, but we're all guilty of having an opinion on how people dress. Most of us dress the way we do because it's a form of our identity. Others may do it to follow trends or gain attention, while the rest simply don't give a shit how they look. Either way, everyone's going to have an opinion. Check out the following snippets from myMANybags and let me know if any of these are a thumbs up or down.

How about colored pants worn like this?


Denim blazers?


Overalls like this?


Denim patches on chinos?


Rolled up pants with socks and these shoes...


or rolled up pants, sockless with these shoes?


Still Incredible
June 25, 2010

I’m sure most of you creative heads have seen this, but I ran across it in my archives and it's still super duper incredible. In case you haven’t, here’s the skinny. Adam Berg of
Stink Digital directs one incredible all in one frame: a Hollywood produced promotional campaign for Philips Carousel, which was the introduction to the world’s first cinema proportion T.V. (as of last year). If you’ve seen it, see it again, if you haven’t, get ready for one Incredible Dark Ride.

Wanna see the making of it? Check it out below.

June 24, 2010

Trade shows are just trade shows. Wait, I mean trade shows that don’t evolve or bring the level of excitement they should are just trade shows. There are a few shows, like Bread and Butter, that set the bar for the rest. In the contemporary furniture world, there’s ICFF in NYC. I didn’t get the chance to go there this year so I toured it virtually. I’ll share some highlights with you via Fast Company.

To me, a good design is something that provokes emotion in a multitude of manners such as form, function, curves, shadows, angles, simplicity, etc. Even better, I like to see things that don’t necessarily look like what they're supposed to look like.


The cool thing about shows these days is that it’s a breeding ground for young talent and up and comers. ICFF supports student education and offers select design grads a chance to show their own collection. Uhuru design firm, in the East, was started by a few grad students from Rhode Island’s RISD. Check the Cyclone Lounger which was not only inspired from an old roller coaster, but the wood slates were also reclaimed from the boardwalk. That’s a story I’ll buy!


They bring this ongoing Coney Island theme into some interesting drop tables.


Next is this dude named Jacob from Cincinnati who works for Amirite Design.


He created a line of chairs called CNNCT. Working off its name, I like the geometric uses of metal and wood with a hint of felt to soften the edges. Better yet, the textured felt cover doubles as a storage for your random whatevers.


Man vs. Woman
June 23, 2010

Maybe I’m biased, but you can tell a lot about a person from the shoes they wear. There’s a pair for every occasion. Some get it and some don’t, but it's really an expression of one personality. Jak and Djil takes some snaps to show us the difference between man and woman.

A mix of everything...


I Like!


Yes, you ladies have a lot more options. Dsquared shows em' how it's done.


Can you imagine what this girl is wearing by her Rodarte pumps?


June 22, 2010

We get lots of people who send us the most random things. Some are better than others, but I still find it interesting when people take the time to do things just cuz.

Starting the Morning Right


Light Bright


Skate + Awards = Trouble
June 21, 2010

What do skateboarders, free booze, Hollywood, and the Lakers have in common? Not much except a reason to get in trouble in the city of bright lights. Transworld and New Era recently hosted the 11th Annual Skate Awards in Avalon. I don’t know how I end up at these things, but this time around I wanted to check out Matt Hensley getting his Legend award.

The Hollywood and Vine shuffle.


Have you checked out Globe’s Political Campaign? Pretty neat.


Did you know Energy drink money grows on trees?


Watch your step!


As you make your way inside there’s always a mix of heads out and about. I’ve been coming to this venue since I was a kid, even before the Palace days. This hallway looks the same, just different heads doing their thing.


I’m gonna mosey on up to the Gold Room and get a better view on the happenings. As usual, you run into random’s like my old friend and T.W. Surf master, Senor Anderson. Congrats on everything! Live life!


If something’s happening, you’ll find Karen there spreading her joyful love. Looks like you got somethin' you don’t want to show me.


Mr. Wang is always in a good mood...


and so is Mr. Stouffer.


Booze and broken toes- a match made in heaven.


Let's get down to it. I really come here because I get to relive some of my skate days. It's been a long time since I could do the things I did when I was a kid, so I reminisce my own ways and reconnect with some of my friends and heroes. An icon himself, Jamie Thomas is on stage bringing up some of his memories of what Hensley has done to him.


There’s a short list of skaters that made street skating what it is today. The godfathers like Gonz and Natas are untouchable. During my time of the mid to late 80’s, there was a new generation coming up. The likes of Lee, Templeton, Klein, Barbee were just a few in L.A. and O.C. In S.D., there was Hensley, progressive technicality with his class fluid style- that's what I’ll always remember. Congrats Matt.


All for One and One for All
June 18, 2010

With all my travels around the world, there seems to be a common factor outside the states. There’s simply is a lack of space when it comes to residential living. I think its amplified in Asia and Europe, but in times of need the #1 answer is to use a little more creativity. An L.A. firm run by German designers, called Graft, designed a nifty all in one pod that houses a kitchen and bathroom while hiding the less desired fixtures such as the heating, cooling and plumbing. Add some style like walnut paneling, built in bookshelves and clean lines and I think you have something pretty incredible. (I don’t think you’ll be finding this at the LOCAL IDEAS anytime soon.)

graft graft1 graft2

June 17, 2010 

Yes, I have lots of things around my office. I don’t necessarily call it junk as they are “random” things that somehow ended up there. The countdown has already begun on when we’ll make the move back to L.A., so I at least have a few more months of random collecting.

010 011 012 013 014 017 018 019 020

The Other Campus
June 16, 2010

I may as well spend some time with buddies around the way, since my days are numbered in the county they call Orange, so I went out to lunch with my friend Anthony. This little company in Portland hand-picked Anthony to be the new Men’s Design Director for Hurley. A’s been around for a minute while I first met him around 14 years ago when he was creating skateboarding’s first apparel line for XYZ. That Pho looks pretty good A!


There seems to be a trend when I go to Vietnamese restaurants. I love crispy rice noodles with chicken and veggies, but each place tastes different. I think the Pearl gets the thumbs up.


Since we don’t see each other a lot, we rapped about the usual and a few interesting things coming down the pipeline. Your gonna have to wait to see what this means, but for now, he took me on a tour at their campus in Costa Mesa. I wonder where the campus name came from? As you can imagine, the place has multiple buildings with each one uniquely made for each aspect of the biz. I think Bob and company is in this one.


I haven’t been here for a few years, but the last time Bob showed me their employee retail shop, it was about 1/10th the size it is now.


In front of the retail shop is their dedicated art house called Space.


Mike Stilkey’s show just wrapped.


Their own music studio doesn’t hurt either...


or stage set up.


Lots jammin' goes on here.


The design building has a lot of goodies that I can’t show you, but it's dope to see past 686 faction artists, Dalek and Bigfoot, represented well.


Coming soon.


Stand Up
June 15, 2010

Don’t mess with LA-kers, son.


Invisible Children
June 14, 2010

We’ve all got issues, but when it affects our youth it’s a priority to me. Invisible Children is a movement seeking to end a long running conflict in East Africa where children are being kidnapped and used as soldiers. In 2003, three filmmakers made a documentary that showcases this ongoing tragedy.

Last week, I attended the Invisible Children’s largest benefit at Paramount Studios. Hmmm… this looks familiar.


It’s presented by Billabong who’s supported the cause for the past 5 years. The benefit is called Design for Humanity and was started by Candy Harris. This year they moved the event from Avalon and brought it to a more open “village” style format with lot’s of events going on.


It’s Hollywood…


where you have everyone in the book wanting to do their thang…


including French guys that have too many drinks.


There was a lot going on including live illustration art shows,


live painting art shows,


scenester art shows,


and skate photo exhibits.


I can’t forget the food trucks. I love the Grilled Cheese Truck!


How about news caddy girls.


Kid Sister in the house!


Oh yeah, can’t forget the show with scantily clad models…


and lot’s of heads everywhere.


I mean everywhere! It almost felt like I was an extra on a movie set.


More importantly, when you’re here, you’re at least aware of the tragedies most of us only see on T.V.


There is a face behind every war.


Unfortunately, there’s a lot more that come with problems in Uganda.
It’s a long road but you can do something. If you’re interested, click here


Peace out.


Free 4 All Fridays - Give Me Some of That!
June 11, 2010


After a few month hiatus, “Free 4 All Fridays” are back. This time, I’m here to bring you this miracle drug that is actually street legal.

It’s a secret that’s been around since the dawn of the computer age. Like I've said before, you don’t need a prescription nor do you have to go to TJ to get this shit. Super stars are flocking all over the globe to get a hit of something that can last f-o-r-e-v-e-r! One case in point is Madonna. Here’s the latest ad of her showcasing this good stuff. Get some if you haven’t already!


Shake On It
June 10, 2010

Before contracts, personal guarantees, loans, partners and just about everything else in biz, it all came down to a simple handshake. The iconic image of a “Hand Shake” determined the difference between a good deal and a bad one. It was more important than an impersonal signature on a piece of paper that would get filed away somewhere you’ll never see again. To me, a handshake (and their word) is more golden than anything else. Call me old fashioned but a man’s word is his word. Interestingly enough, Dominic Wilcox invented a device that breaks the complexity down into something that’s already set. Not to mention it's up to date with ISO, OSHA, FDA and all the other governing bodies to make sure the deal is 100% bacteria free.

Step 1- Approach the unit with confidence.


Step 2- Make sure you're appropriately dressed, insert your right hand to match his right hand and look him in the eye with a stern position of trust.


Step 3- Don’t be a wuss and make sure the pressure of the shake is one of admiration, longevity and prosperity.


June 9, 2010

Back in the day, typography was a specialized art form. Today, the digital age has transformed this art into so many different species. “Fonts,” as many people call it, is a part of typeface that completes a character size set. There’s something to be said for making shit look good with numbers, letters, words, seals, dies, punches and glyphs.

I Love Typography or ILT is a cool blog that gets you to do just that- love typography. It gives you a better insight and an alternative to what most people consider just something from your drop down menu.


The one and only HELVETICA:


Did you know that Helvetica…

-Is Latin for Swiss?

-Is over 50 years old?

-Is a San Serif face?

If you didn’t know, now you do baba, baaaby.


Hold Those Pants Up
June 8, 2010

If I can point to two products that got us to where we’re at today, it’s the SMARTY® system of proprietary detachable liners and the one and only patented TOOLBELT™. We come up with funky ideas and 15 years ago we were talking about an idea of having tools (for riding or common uses around the house) without the hassles of carrying them around. A few beers and lot's of paper napkins later, we designed our first Toolbelt™. Fast forward to today and hundreds of protos later, with several dozen styles to market and a few patents, we’re about to embark on the next generation of functional products. It's coming soon, but for now, check out our quality Toolbelts made from 100% imported leather (snow specific belts have a waterproof finish so the leather doesn’t bleed) and the highest grade steel components available.

Here’s the original story.


The Original- Snow


The Original- Skate


The Pinhole


The Small Stud


The Rocker Stud


PMS What?!
June 7, 2010

I'm the type of person that's comfortable sleeping anywhere- in a tent, on a couch, the floor, whatever. Since I travel a bit, I am accustomed to doing whatever it takes to "get by." The flip side is that I'm a fan of good design and a story to go with it. If I get the chance to stay in a place that has both, it's even better. In a few months I'll be heading to Europe for some meetings. When I planned my trip, I ran across a place that has the two things I like, endorsed by the one and only Pantone (R)


The Pantone Hotel, in Brussels, is a simple yet modern expression of color and comfort.


The spectrum is based upon the contrast nature of white with pops of color. Just like the fans we use at the office, each color brings a different emotion. I think we used this palette for Spring '09.


Can I get some Vitamin Water with my OJ please?


Did you know it's scientifically proven that certain colors can change your mood? I wanna make sure that when I wake up in the morning, I have a clear head. How about yourself?


Under My Feet
June 4, 2010

Unless you've been living in a cave, I'm sure you know about the disastrous situation off the Gulf of Mexico. In fact there's been numerous problems around the world with these types of mistakes, we just somehow don't hear about it.

Living in L.A., the idea of an oil spill happening here is probably the last thing we worry about, but little do we know that twenty billion barrels of oil sit beneath us. (Yes, I said 20 billion barrels! With a street value of about $75 per barrel, that's a lot of cookies.) I wonder how many of us don't have any idea how much of this stuff comes out of the ground and where it comes out? In fact, it's everywhere, we just somehow can't see it. VBS shows what I mean by what's under my feet. Check it.

June 3, 2010

Since I was a runt, I've always been into sneakers. Skateboarding had a lot to do with it, but I used to travel near and far to get a hold of the latest shit. Mind you, this was in the early 80's where there were no "Sneaker Boutiques." What I did was head to Inglewood, Compton and Gardena (Rodium swap meets) to see what Nikes, Adidas, British Knights, Le Coqs, Pumas and Converses they had in stock.

The only legit skate brands back then were Airwalk and Vans, which I also rode in. Whatever money I had, I spent it that same day on shoes. I even got jumped twice for my sneakers, but I was still determined to get what I wanted.

Even though I was mainly into the aesthetics of the shoe I still wanted to make sure the soles were dope. Soles make or break a good shoe. It's unfortunate that a lot of heads these days don't pay attention to matching the sole to the type of upper. Have you noticed that some companies use the same lower for their entire line up. Is this a good thing or not? It's really up to you, but next time you get your joints, make sure you check what's down under, aight? Here are some examples of various types of soles. Can you guess what the upper looks like?










Make it look good
June 2, 2010

It's all about the presentation, the first look, the initial reaction. Our foundation is functionality, but in the end, in order to get anywhere shit has to look good. I've always been into presentation. It can make or break a sale or even a relationship with a customer for life. Since I had seen the 60,000 rods at the UK Pavilion in Shanghai, I wanted to see what else these skinny things could do. A case in point would be the Issey Miyhake store in Shibuya, Japan. Instead of using traditional hangers and shelving, design firm Nendo opts for 7mm thin steel rods to present their collection.


As you can see, products are supported by points rather than by flat lines.


It almost looks like the coat and bags are flooooaaattinngg.


My Mind is Playing Tricks on Me
June 1, 2010

As some of you know, The World Expo is being held in Shanghai, China. It just opened in May and will run until October. I'm trying to line up some of my future travels so I can check it out. One of my hit lists for the Expo is to check out the UK Pavilion, designed by Thomas Heatherwick. The theme is called "Better City, Better Life" and the "Seed" cathedral is in the center of the site.


It stands about 20 meters tall with an eye-dropping view of 60,000 transparent rods with each rod encasing seeds at the tip.




During the daytime, these rods act as optical fibers that illuminate the inside.


At night it's a glowing masterpiece. When the wind blows, these little thin puppies create mystical hair raising movements. As the Geto Boys would say "my mind is playing tricks on me."


Some interesting facts:

China is forecast to become the world's second largest economy in 2010.

The Chinese Government's 55 billion dollar investment (damn!) in infrastructure for Shanghai Expo is more than double the cost of the Beijing Olympics.

The rods in the UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo will be recycled and distributed to schools across China and in the UK.

If you want to take a glimpse into the making, check it out here.

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May 2010: Part 1
May 2010: Part 2
April 2010: Part 1
April 2010: Part 2
March 2010: Part 1
March 2010: Part 2
February 2010