Back to News

Mike's Mash | September 2010

September 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!

Checking In
September 30, 2010 

When I travel outside Cali, I get a lot of comments from others saying, "Isn’t it convenient to have companies in the industry being centralized in a certain area?" When I think about it, I agree it's nice to have friends and other like-minded brands a stones throw away. I tend to forget that there’s a lot of cool things right around the corner. The bummer is that, although they're next door, we never get to see each other! One fine example is my friends at Vestal. I checked with Derek and Scott the other day to see what’s happening. (I think it was a good idea that Marty and Johnny were out of the office as it may have turned into something more than I would have expected a good way of course...)


Vestal's been around for a minute and have stayed the course throughout the years. In my mind, there’s only two watch brands that do it right. In the case of Vestal, they not only created their space, they own it and have lot's more to positively grow outside it. "Hello Derek, how are you doing?" (Isn’t it fitting that I take this picture in front of your office bar).


Did I also say they live it as well?


The merchandising displays showcase the Vestal story front and center.


Some good looks coming your way- The Plexi Acetate.


Speaking about looks, introducing the new eyewear collection.


For her.


For him.


For me.


The Bag
September 29, 2010

I’m a true fan of well thought out products that are inspired from a history that involves the juxtaposition of different means. Reed Krakoff is the Creative Director of the Coach brand. I’m not personally into Coach as much as others out there, but I have to give it up to his latest fore- The Fall 2010 Boxer Tote Bags. To me, it’s a blend of his contemporary and art background mixed with an architectural and industrial vibe that supports the confident and cool person using it. In this case, it’s a bag for a woman, but I would have no problem using it as my other man bag.

1 2 3 4

A League of Its Own
September 28, 2010

While in Vegas, I stopped by Rob Dyrdek's Street League at UNLV- the one and only Thomas and Mack Center.


If you're not familiar with the Street League, its Rob's mastermind plan to create a league for skaters by skaters with the plan of gaining mainstream appeal with his proprietary ISX instant point scoring system (24 of the best pros, a million dollar purse and a royalty sharing plan doesn't hurt either.)


If I can vividly remember this UNLV basketball team during the 90's, I know I'm getting old.


It was closed to the public during the semi's, but I guess someone likes me enough to get a peak at what's going on. It's strange but very exciting to see a full blown concrete park in the middle of something- an area where they'll play basketball in a few days.


Mr. Nyjah Huston doing something I can't even comprehend.


I'll give you my honest opinion on Street League. Overall, I'm stoked to see how far skateboarding has come. More importantly it's incredible when a skater himself is able to gather all the right people to make this happen. The like the ISX system as it simplifies the judging process and puts a strategy behind the overall run. In addition, it creates a format that the mainstream audience will hopefully understand, hence gaining more of an audience and thus more money.

Now the not so good things I observed, given today was closed to the public and most of the people were industry heads, but it felt "boring." What I mean is skateboarding to me is about jamming and the chaos and comradery that comes with it. Maybe because I came up in the CASL and NSA contests in the 80's, I'm a little biased. People and boards flying everywhere, skaters sweating and getting hurt, music blaring and the audience yelling. What I saw was something different. It's not necessarily bad, but different and made for TV. When I spoke to random skate tm's and industry friends, they mirrored something similar to my thoughts. However if this fills a void between the overly corporatized X Games, Maloof and Dew contests and pushes skateboarding forward, then I'm all about it. (And I don't think Mr. Sheckler, while doing this crooked switch something across the bench, would disagree with me.)


The Crank Set
September 27, 2010

"Looking forward to another trade show" is something you'll rarely hear coming out of my mouth, however, when it comes to doing something I'm not directly involved in (yet) and an opportunity to check out what else l can cop from my friends, I'm down. This past weekend was Interbike's last hurrah in Vegas. After this one, they're coming back to Cali and calling Anaheim the new home so I better hurry and see what's out there. Remember kids, follow the rules...


Well, I like to make up my own rules so I'm gonna have some fun starting at Chrome. I like it when companies live what they preach. Made in the SF, I mean Las Vegas...


Grab a bag and get a tat


while I'm going to go see what others are doing.... I'm not a downhill guy, but Santa Cruz bikes are making some ridiculous things worth checking out.


Made in Brooklyn.


Made by Mishka.


Made in Bamboo?


Made by what?!


Problem solved.


No chains needed.




Yes, the law just passed last week.


From gears,


to wheels,


to a new innovation in casual bike footwear,


and helmets,


to LDG's Hurley colorblock whatchamacallit,


to our West Coast agent, James, making deals,


to strap harnesses up and over,


to now you see it,


now you don't.


I enjoyed my time in Vegas and so did these guys.


Coming Soon…

September 24, 2010

Our core Fall and Winter Collection for 2010-2011 has just shipped to our stockists around the globe, but there’s a few limited things that we haven’t announced yet. I’ll give you a few hints behind the scenes of our recent photo shoot. One item involves “waxed” things.


The other limited edition item involves something “original” found close to 100 years ago. Hmmmm, possibly along the lines of the most “iconic” denim piece in the world… enough hints? Stay tuned…


September 23, 2010

Working off Shepard’s “Lead by Example” campaign, Adopt a Pet released a few posters to match your furry companion made in Italian leather. Some heads will do anything for their dog…





Thermal Insulation Preview- Fall 2010
September 22, 2010

This past summer has been recorded as one of the coldest in a minute, I hope it’s a good sign for a brisk fall. Just in time, check out a few snippets from our Fall 2010 Thermal Insulation Collection for Men. More than aesthetics, all our items have moisture wicking properties that make sure you stay warm and dry.

The Logger flannel in Red. 0728012457thermal_Logger_Flannel_Red
The Parallel light gauge wool sweater in Gunmetal. 0728012436thermal_parallel_gunmetal
The Sabotage heavy gauge wool sweater in Royal. 0728012452thermal_sabotage_royal

The Alliance performance fleece in Black. 0728012518thermal_alliance_black
The Tactics performance rugby thermal in Black. 0728012538thermal_tactics_black

But Words Will Never Hurt Me
September 21, 2010

Sticks and Stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I think all of us remember those little idioms from growing up. It may seem a little silly now, but to a few London designers, they take it to heart with a collaborated collection called Sticks and Stones and Broken Bones.

Studio Toogood and Hardware brand Ize have come together to create some cool looks of handles and hooks in the form of what else but Sticks, Stones and Bones. Check it and see if it brings back any memories.





September 20, 2010 

I’m into trips that involve a lot of things in a small period of time. In addition, most of my inspiration in creating a collection almost always comes from my travels. Over the weekend, I tagged along with some friends to the Southern tip of Costa Rica to see what I could find. I’ve been to Costa Rica before, but never down in the jungle like this. Go Nat, go.


Word to the wise, always get a 4x4 truck, try to avoid the rainy season and keep your eyes on the road. At least we did one of the two.


From plane to plane to car to car, it's still worth the trip when you arrive to a place like this. Welcome.


That’s Panama on the horizon.


What am I waiting for? Time to grab the boards and head down through the rainforest. Easier said than done when the pitch is a little steep and slippery. I’m heading that-a-way, right?


I will.


The thing about coming to Costa during the rainy season is that everything and anything can happen here. A little lighting doesn’t hurt anyone, except this tree.


From howler monkeys to large spiders- it's all good.


Down the hill…


and through the woods...


we arrive and play around for a second.


Fun times, but I think the swell will be picking up tomorrow.


Time for some grinds.


Home cooked meals are always the way to go- muchas gracias.


“FREE 4 ALL FRIDAYS”-The Hard,The Hungry & The Homeless
September 17, 2010


There are few things that I will never forget that have influenced my outlook forever. My professor at school who told me it was okay to do something that involved work and playing at the same time, the old Powell Peralta vids like Animal Chin and of course Mack Dawg’s The Hard, The Hungry and the Homeless. Maybe it was because back then it was all core to us and everything we did was about going fast and hard. Living through all of this in Big Bear was my life and a small portion of it was vividly captured in Dawgers 1992 film

The White Tigers
September 16, 2010 

In some countries like China, white tigers are often referenced as “god-like” creatures that have special mystical powers. To my friends at Atwater, this translates well into their art-fashion-music-cali vibe. I think it's time for a new cut…


Two passionate dudes living it and having a one hell of a fun time. Howz it Dean and Spides.


Just talking to them, you can actually see the soulful stoke vibe ooozing out of them- I love it. I also love it when Dean has his original Gonz deck in his office just like I do.


Brings back memories of my office in LA- everything I owned I could touch and feel.


If you didn’t know Scott and Dean has been around the surf industry for more than a minute. It also doesn’t hurt that he practices what he preaches.


Mr. Designer extraordinaire, Spides brings the city to the surf.


Support the small guys that still care about all the little things that make the big differences.


September 15, 2010

Heads tend to think that I’m always on shit before it comes out. Most of the time I am, but when it comes to this little thing, I’m really late to the party. However it's still nice to get drunk off a few drinks.


Privacy Please!
September 14, 2010

I’ve always considered myself much more of a hard worker than someone naturally talented. Learning along the way, its really how “smart” you work than how “hard” you work. This doesn’t discount the fact that I had some tough times growing up. Back in the day, it took me twice as long learning than others. In school, it was easy to “borrow” things from people, especially in college. However I’m glad that I learned the “hard” way and worked my ass off to pass, than “borrow” to succeed.

UK designer, Sophie Kirkpatrick shows us a genius way using a wood veneer surface and accordion hood, to make sure heads keep to themselves and “fail in pride than to cheat in glory.”


Step 1, do your own thang.


Step 2, privacy please!


September 13, 2010

I remember when I was little and being so stoked on the simplest things- playing in the dirt with toy soldiers or riding a tricycle bike all day. When my mom came by at the end of the day, I was like “already?” I guess being occupied all the time by truly enjoying the things I did, time really does fly.

Believe it or not, we’re entering our 18th year in biz and the same rules apply. Everyday’s a blessing and I’m looking for many more fun years to come. We work with over 1,500 store fronts across the globe and as we quickly approach our double decade, I reflect back at where we started. One example is our third stockist back in 1992 in Hermosa Beach, Cali called Spyder boards. Spyder has a long history in the South Bay that dates back close to 30 years! Interestingly enough, in the late 1980’s yours truly was on their first skate team. It was dope being part of a unit with all my friends street skating in Hermosa and Venice. When I started my biz, Spyder gave me a chance (as with Wave Rave #1 and ET #2) as it all started at this place on PCH.


If you know Spyder, then you’re probably aware that they recently finished an insane remodel that features a huge 24’ tower as part of their structure. In addition of "bringing people together", they have another store closer to the beach on Pier Ave. (Winter will be here soon, so you just might see something interesting here.)


Inside, they have all the goods one would expect.


Each area is neatly organized and merchandised accordingly, all still containing an open lofty vibe.


Only goin' up.


Besides world renowned shaper, Dennis (Jarvis), my man Richard (aka Dickie) is the other partner that runs the ship. I told Dickie that it was getting old only seeing him at trade shows, so I had to say what up. Dickie and I go back before High School and throughout the college years so I think it's time overdue. Congrats on everything and stoked to be a part of wherever you’re heading.


City of Roses
September 10, 2010

When coming to Portland, roses aren’t the first thing that come to mind. I guess heads equate Portland Oregon to Nike country rather than to a place they would call the City of Roses. If I were you, I would take some time and check out the cool scene here. Let me help you.

140 141 142 119 132 131

Metal fabrication design has always fascinated me. Next time you’re taking a walk, check out the cool things beneath your feet.

139 135 134

JC is taking me somewhere and I have no idea where.


It's getting dark and along the way, we ran into a few other amigos named Mikey and Scott (aka Mr. and Mr. Holden) Trouble lurks ahead but I’m down with the ride which includes…


Pizza and…


…what? There could be stranger reasons why Mr. Condorelli has his own “box” of special ones. Thank you for sharing (even though I don’t smoke).


I guess there’s a first time for everything.


The Recreational Equipment Incorporated
September 9, 2010

The official winter selling season doesn’t really start until January 1st, however, for a few handful of heads, we start early and pre-line our collection (which won’t be delivered until 16 months from now)! I know it sounds silly, but to the ones that are most successful, it’s the way things go. Our account base is wide. What I mean is that the technical apparel we peddle lives at the core specialty, but also touches the outdoor and sporting stockists. The Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) is the most recognized and successful outdoor retailer in the US. We’ve been working closely with them for a minute (close to a decade) and are considered a great partner. I think this calls for a personal meeting to say “hello.”


They live it.


Enough talking biz, I’m heading to downtown Seattle and see what’s cracking. Speaking of cracking…


Did you know that this location was one of the highest paid Starbucks stores in the nation?


Mr. Gumby and little TJ agree with me that they might have paid a little too much.


Oh well, I’m gonna forgo the brown stuff and drink this stuff.


Straight Lines
September 8, 2010 

In my spare time (which is sparse these days) I like to check out the world of modern architecture. I think it’s because I’m intrigued with things that have a beginning and an end. To me the modern world of design is the simplest form of a straight line. However, it can be very difficult to achieve a straight line. Just recently, I checked out some homes which exemplifies the meaning of straight lines. Nice place huh….

Take, for example, this concrete form that surrounds the pool. Instead of using pre-made cinder blocks or covering it up with veneer stone, the designer chose to use wood slates to form a horizontal pattern.

If you want to see a supreme example of this technique, check out Japanese design firm Wonderwall. Mr. Katayama takes it to a different level with molded concrete from raw cedar board planks.


Where most people would tend to stick in the corner of their garage, this homeowner carries the same theme into the front mailbox. Notice how the box and the concrete all line up.

It's all in the lines.

Lines come in all shapes and sizes. I like it when it creates the illusion of making things float.

This entry step may appear like any other, but actually it's not. Check out the floating technique of the smooth stucco edge base.

If you’ve ever put a deck into your backyard, you’ll probably use deck screws to make it happen. For dorks like me, I’ll stick to seamless clean lines, so I’ll kill myself and spend 4x the money to make this happen while everyone else will not even notice the difference.


The Green Mountain State
September 7, 2010

While everyone was spending time enjoying their labor day weekend, I was out and about somewhere back east, of all places. Considering my immediate family lives in the
Green Mountain State, I’m obliged to come back here at times. Being born and raised in the West, coming to the East is very different. Some may be biased towards the 14th U.S. state, but I look at it differently. I just need to find which way I’m first heading to.


Very V.T.

All roads lead to...

The weather changes fast here. One minute, you see this…

...the other minute you see that.

Everything is homemade here.

I’m gonna test my sweet tooth out to make sure it’s still working.

Let me check it again.

Okay it’s working. (BTW, this is their smallest junior scoop.)

Now all I have to do is wash it down with a flight of goodness.


Window Seat
September 2, 2010 

I’m off
somewhere so I apologize for the short intermission. Stay tuned…


Subliminal Messages
September 1, 2010

It’s always entertaining when heads send
us random icon pics. I like it when people make it their own. Here are two of my favorites: Post it now.


I like it so much that I think I’m gonna make a boardshort out of it. Coming


View Previous Post & Comments:
August 2010

July 2010

June 2010
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