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Mike's Mash | December 2010

December 31, 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!

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
December 31, 2010

To not sweating the small stuff. To sleeping more. To wanting less. To having fun. To living life. To the future. Happy New Year!

Reality What?
December 29, 2010 

Question- What does the father of Jessica and Ashley Simpson have to do with our industry?

Answer- I have no idea.

Actually I do, but all I can say is that I don’t get it (yet). Last week I got invited to Joe Simpson’s holiday party. 99.9% of the time, I would have passed, but since I know Joe’s partner and was in the area, I stopped by to say what’s up. Besides bumping into the Kardashian’s on the way up, having cameras and bright lights shinning at my face while trying to have a conversation, Pete Wentz telling me he’s psyched on the winter season and Hollywood hipsters trying too hard, it was okay. 10 minutes later I peaced out… 008 Is everything in Hollywood scripted? 003 Make it a double, please. 006

December 28, 2010 

I know you’ve seen them before, but during this time of year, there’s a lot of “awkwardness” that goes on. The guys at Awkward Family Photos have complied some of the best moments we’re glad to not have been a part of.






Happy Holidays from…
December 27, 2010

…the Westlife Familia.


Designers Wanted
December 21, 2010 

I’m all about the process. The process of doing things is more important to me than the end product. Sounds weird, but I guess it's not the first time someone’s called me that.

Over 15 years ago, we started implementing recycled plastic bottles into our technical fleeces. Since then we’ve used multiple sustainable methods of “recycling” products such as bamboo insulation and hemp fabrications. However this wasn’t good enough. There were two significant problems in “recycling” in apparel.

1) Visually, the consumer cannot see the recycled story. A plain black jacket that says this was made from recycled polyester isn’t compelling enough.

2) The most important problem is that if the goal is to minimize your carbon footprint, then you need to minimize the process to get there.

So what we did is create a new movement called the “Reclaim Project.” The idea of reclaiming is to utilize what's already out there. 25 million tons of textile-related waste occurs in the U.S. alone. Since most apparel production is done offshore, the numbers are staggering. We wanted to show the story of what it looks like to have a jacket made from existing left over fabric and trims that would have normally been tossed in landfill. The end result is a pretty cool piece that looks different.

In addition, for each Reclaim purchase, 686 and the Match One Foundation™ will donate an equal jacket to someone in need. This upcycling process has never been done before in the outerwear market and I’m stoked to introduce it to y’all.

I’m not done yet- we’re going to bring all this to life and do a huge Reclaim manufacturing exhibition at the Denver SIA show on January 27th to the 30th and I need your help.

We’re throwing a contest and inviting 3 designers to come be part of this Reclaim process. If you win, we’ll fly you down, put you up in front of 30,000 people in the Snow Sports industry. You’ll have 3 days to show us what you got from storyboards, sketching, marking and most important sewing. It’s a great opportunity for anyone wanting to get into the design field of technical outerwear. Check out the flier and apply here.



The 18th Annual B & W Holiday Gig Recap
December 20, 2010 

Although our annual B & W gig was last week, I’m still recovering from the widespread debauchery. Open bar-Caricatures-Photo Booth-Fashion Show-World class DJ’s. It was all in good fun and proceeds went to the Match One Foundation™ Here’s some snippets of what went down that night. When in Hollywood…


Lights, Camera, Outfits.


Nor Cal agent, Jay holds it down on the road. We’ll see what happens later that night.


Usher's posse somehow got in a dance battle with Jay. Don’t ask who won.


Something new coming soon.


Doing a “fashion show” in L.A. with outerwear doesn’t necessarily make sense to us... it's all in good fun.


Mr. and Mrs. WESC.


Play that funky music.


Party people.






See you next year.


Ka Boooooooooom
December 17, 2010 

Out of customs in record time, in the taxi with only 1 red light, in and out of the shower in 2 minutes flat, at the beach in time for Xmas fireworks with way too many people in my way… If I didn’t end up designing things, I’d probably end up somewhere bad burning things up- I love fireworks especially when it's not on the 4th of July. The city where I live hosts an annual fireworks show that’s pretty dope. Countdown.

 325 (3)


 326 (4)


329 (1)

Red is rad.

327 (5)

Uh, I think we have a problem.

 324 (2)

Tasty Treats
December 16, 2010 

Y’all know I couldn’t resist…

159 157 177 181 201 202 269 294 297 298 300 299 302 311 322 323

The Euro Way
December 15, 2010 

I think the more I travel out of the states and into Europe, there’s a few things that come to mind (generally speaking…)

#1- 50 plus holidays, 8 week vacations and siestas can be a good thing.
#2- Food sucks compared to Europe.
#3- The level of design in Europe is on another level.
#4- Censorship doesn’t exist in Europe.
#5- Clean air, natural beauty, historical landmarks are the standard in Europe.
#6- It doesn’t take a lot to enjoy life here.

Now that I got that little rant out of the way, back to our regular programming.

It’s the little things that stand out here that’s different than the states. I don’t think I’ve seen too many of these at the local Target.

 310 151 152

I’ll think about it.


An experience to say the least.

002 003 005 076

Ditch the car.



317 318

Something magical.

167 161

Celsius, Not Fahrenheit
December 14, 2010

Guess where I am?

 221 222

Can you see me?


Aight, enough with all of that- I’m in Austria for our international sales meetings. When you come here in the winter time this is what your back yard looks like. Crazy huh?


Anytime I head out, its mandatory that we check out the stockists who keep our lights on. Check out a few who support the whacky things we do.

041 044 017 025 063 065 103 081 106 118 119

The Friendly Skies
December 9 & 10, 2010 

36,000 miles above sea level and 9 hours more to go until I land somewhere where they like to eat, smoke and drink like its going out of style.


Just Eat the Damn Thing
December 8, 2010 

There are so many damn shows out there about food, it's a turn off on what the hell I should put in my mouth. That is until I stumbled upon Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” show on the Travel Channel. Why is Tony’s show one to watch, in my opinion? A few reasons starting with he’s much more than a chef or a food critic- His quirky, grumpy and smart ass personality is the core to his honest and wildly entertaining travel experiences. He takes you on a ride that mimics a whacky meal with your homies mixed with something out of the ordinary in a foreign country you only dream of.


No this is not like that other show, but yes there are interesting things like this in his show.


If you haven’t tried pho out, then this episode will make you think it’s the best thing since fried chicken

On the other hand, this one with Anthony eating seal with the Intuit in Eastern Canada is something I’d rather have missed

It Smells Like…
December 7, 2010 

Question- What does a dumpsite that smells like something between a public restroom in the summertime and garbage that’s been stagnant for 2 weeks...

photo 1-1

…and this empty plastic bottle…

photo 2-1

…and our 5D have in common? Answer- coming soon.

photo 3-1

The Independent Way
December 3, 2010

I’m a firm believer in “do what you say... say what you do" and more importantly, "do it yourself.” This philosophy has stuck by us for the past 18 years in business. Don’t get me wrong, we depend on a intricate network of partners, but it all starts with knowing what you want by living through it. I think my younger skateboarding days instilled a lot of the DIY attitudes as my education and hard knock experience brought it full circle to what it takes to get it.

The messages we like to portray in the unique things we do is that the process of learning is infinite and the passion to do things you love should be your guide in life. My homies at Hypebeast were graciously interested enough to show y’all some inner workings of what I’m talking about.  It's one of the rare times you’ll see my ugly mug in front of the camera instead of behind - so click below before I’m too embarrassed and take it down.

Love and Peace,


The Best “Adult” Movie Scenes
December 3, 2010 

There are “good adult" movie scenes and there are the “best adult" movie themes. I’m sure there’s a grip of them out there, but to me, when something is forever embedded in your mind, not necessarily from what you see, but more so on what you don’t see and how it's shot on film, is what really defines the “best” for me. This is and will be my #1 scene of all time.

Every young dude’s dream has come true.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
December 2, 2010

From Junya Watanabe’s Black and White inspirations to my own, tonight is our 18th annual Black & White Holiday Gig at Bardot in Hollywood. One time a year for the past eighteen, we’ve been throwing an end of the year bender that’s full of anything and everything. From world famous DJs to a full blown fashion show previewing our Winter 2011-2012 collection, things will be poppin' tonight. This season, all proceeds are benefiting the Match One Foundation™ which is dedicated to assisting under-privileged communities that are winter based. It's an invite-only private affair, so stay tuned for the follow up pics next week.

686 Black & White Holiday Gig-1

December 1, 2010 

There are some things that keep reinventing themselves and the use of stripes in apparel design is one example of how something as simple as a solid line can go along way. One of my all time favorite designers, Junya Watanabe, shows us how his upcoming Spring 2011 collection focuses on just this, with explicit nautical and marine undertones that over-accentuates the ghostly Toyko Doll look.





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November 2010

October 2010
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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