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Mike's Mash | January 2011

January 31, 2011

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!

Anarchy in the UK
January 31, 2011 

Gardena Banks, Gonz, Curbs, Natas, Sadlands, CASL, Venice Pavilion and Sex Pistols pretty much sum up the highlights of my skateboarding past. The first song I ever heard from the Sex Pistols was “Anarchy in the UK.” Growing up in a small beach town in L.A., I had little idea where the UK was. However I did understand the restless frustration the song was directed to. The British youth uprising was in full effect during the late 70’s and early 80’s and no one yelled it louder than the Sex Pistols. About 6 years ago during our ACE (Artist Collaboration Effort) program, it came full circle when we collaborated with Mr. Jamie Reid, best known for his art works with the Sex Pistols and Never Mind the Bollocks. I think you might have seen his work before…

Mr. Einstein
January 28, 2011

Since day one, we’ve included random quotes in all our garments. We place them in the inner center flap of our jackets and the inner fly area of the pants. They range from whacky, WTF type of one liners to something more personal and meaningful. Either way, I wanted to include them in what we do simply cuz there’s a story in everything we do. Starting today, you’re gonna receive random quotes from a bunch of heads I admire.

"The world is a dangerous place; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." Albert Einstein

The Snow Show
January 27, 2011 

Today’s the first day of the annual SIA Snow Show in Denver. It's basically where it all goes down for next season's products. Stay tuned for more of what we have planned for Winter 2011-2012.

January 26, 2011 

It's official- After hundreds of qualified entries, the three finalists of the 1st annual Live Reclaim Project are:

Kristen Nuttall- New York, NY

Julie Tierney- Brooklyn, NY

Megan Johnston- Alta, UT

From January 27th to the 29th, they’ll be designing and manufacturing a snowboard jacket made from 686 reclaimed materials on the actual SIA show floor in Denver. On Saturday, January 30th at 5 pm, the winner will be announced in front of a packed audience. The judging panel, which consists of lead designers from Volcom, Holden, Ride and Bond will determine who walks away the winner. Judging will be based upon the following:

Functionality- Does it really work on the hill? Originality- How creative was the story and how much personality and style came into it? Retail able- Would a retailer buy and sell this? Technicality- Construction wise, was it made well and how much thought and time went into producing the garment? Reclaimable- How well was the “reclaimed” story told?

The Reclaim Project is 686’s unique eco-initiative dedicated to reclaiming or upcycling left over 1st quality fabric and trims into one-of-a-kind technical apparel products. In addition, for each reclaimed product that’s purchased, the Match One Foundation x 686 will donate a reclaimed jacket to someone in need.

January 25, 2011 

January and February are critical selling times for the upcoming Fall and Winter seasons. When it comes to selling, trade shows aren’t far away. With Agenda down and about a dozen other regional shows going on across the country, its game time. The good fellas at the KNOW?SHOW had their selected brands shows in Vancouver. In typical Mike style, I was there for less than 24 hours to see what was going on.

Location-Location-Location…. The waterfront of Van is a great venue.


The right lines…


…make all the difference.




The KNOW?SHOW in Canada is similar to our Agenda show with an open format and a juried set of brands. I checked into our booth and it seems like things are going pretty well- Sell, sell, sell!


The creative folks at Girl always have something fun going on.


Y’all may not remember the original pic of this, but growing up, this one of the most iconic skate photos of all time. I think I had everyone’s board at one point in time.


Speaking about iconic, I had the pleasure of having lunch with Jamie Lynn. I’ve met Jamie a few times before, but never sat down and rapped out. No matter how long I’ve been doing what I do, I still “fan-out” on things like this. It only comes once and a while, but shit it's Jamie.


Instead of telling you what we spoke about, you’re gonna have to wait for something else to come, while I enjoy my Salmon Burger.

One More Time
January 24, 2011 

Big ups 686 faction rider, Mr. Vito, for winning this weekend’s Dew Tour in Killington, VT!!! Its Louie’s third time this year, he’s won the entire damn thing! His last run consisted of a front double cork 10, cab double cork 10, crippler roast beef, Michalchuk and finally a frontside 10. (Yeah, can you imagine…)

LV has one more to go in Snowbasin and he’ll be more than drinking out of his Dew Cup if he wins.

Congrats Mr. V!

January 21, 2011 

I know it’s been a while since I last posted anything on our big move to LA. Well, to put it simply, we are having “city issues” in building and planning and it's taking a lot longer than expected. I would like to say it's because of my whacky and unconventional designs we submitted, but the truth is that it’s the city. I won’t go into details of my frustrations with city approval, but hopefully soon, we’ll be out and into our new HQ.

I wanted to give you a little preview into something that maybe similar to what we have planned. I ran across this studio design that Japanese Architect firm, Schemata made. A solid vertical mirrored wall with a hole in the middle- doesn’t seem that unusual.


However, if you need to get downstairs quick, hop in and your there!


Plan, plans, plans.


(Photographs are by Takumi Ota.)

4D What?
January 20, 2011

I’m probably the last one to see the new Tron movie, but I think I made up for it when I saw it in 4D?! Step 1- Pick up these little puppies.


Step 2- Put them on.


Step 3- Sit in this red thing.


This little thing is a brand new simulating device that enables you to live the movie experience.


What I mean is that it moves and has extra sounds that make you feel front and center of the entire show. Captain EO was way ahead of its time…

Please Stand By
January 19, 2011 

If you didn’t know, is taking a little break. As much as I’d like to say this is a strategic marketing plan to do something else, it's not. We had a complete meltdown on our server and been working 24/7 to get this back up and running very soon. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience- thanks for your patience.

A 100K Goes a Long Way- Part 2
January 18, 2011 

So here’s the deal- Zumiez is one of the largest multi-chain stores catering to the youth action sports market. Based all across the country, but headquartered in the Pacific N.W., they’ve been steadily growing into a powerhouse beating “others” at their own game. 3 years ago and after 15 years in biz, we started working with them on a small basis. Over the 3 year period, we’ve grown organically with them and now their top selling outerwear brand. It was a touchy transition as our base is in the core market, but looking back, we believe we took the proper route, starting very small and working our way up.

Each year, they have a “Cult-like” event called the 100K. Any employee that sells over $100K is invited to Keytstone, Colorado to take part in a huge party-celebration-blowout. At the same time, it's probably the biggest industry event from the top pro athletes to iconic founders, big and small. Growing up, I remember fanning out to Hosoi at a skate gig. Now I get to have dinner with him, TA and all my other childhood heroes talking about how cool it is to be in good company-what a trip…

Its about 10 degrees outside and I’m only wearing a crew. Get me inside now!


A look from the back- The show is about to begin.


For 1300 Zumites and about 250 invited industry heads, this little production is actually a big production- lights, camera, marching bands, music acts and a green screen MTV-like video intro.


Each year, they have the “founders stage intro.” Basically the founders of all your favorite brands are invited onstage to give big ups to the kids. Some have pretty cool speeches while others leave you scratching your head. I don’t think anyone is going to scratch their head to Mr. Neff.


Preach on brother, preach on.


Although it was Bobby’s first time and he was still adjusting to the 8,000 ft. above sea level thing, he was stoked to be here.


I think he’s still trippin' on the entire experience…


Although getting on stage and having people look at me is not my cup of tea, I was excited to give props to everyone who support the independent culture of doing shit themselves. No pics or video of me this year… is a good thing. The other good thing is, since I was next to the last person on stage, I introduced Shepard to the Zumites.


At the 100K, they gather all the industry heads in one VIP area. Free booze, food and shakas are abundant, so are these heads. (Ashley, LV, Ben, Aaron, Casillo.)


Will, Rick and I are going to take a secret trip somewhere...


I can only hang out so long in a private area and talk to heads I see all the time. The best thing about the 100K is to go out and hang with the kids. Congrats y’all.



Each year it still trips me out when kids call my name and give props on what we’ve done. They tell me their stories on what they think about 686 and how they're stoked on what we do. More importantly, I’m stoked on you guys.


Tom Campion is the founder of Zumiez. He’ on the run. We took the gondola up in the morning and now he just got shot out of a canon a few seconds ago. How you doin' Tom?


The after party of the 100K is like a rave gone wild. One large room with everything and anything.


Gambling anyone?


How about a hit of air.


Your Horsd'œuvres are served.


Prizes galore.


No comment.


I hope the kids know which bus they're on. See you next year.



A 100K Goes a Long Way-Part 1
January 17, 2011

With my recent travels, I’m a few days behind mashing. My apologies for the lack of real time information. Nonetheless, I’ve been roaming around Colorado, dropping by Steamboat and Breckenridge to give props for all the support. Lastly we’ve arrived to our final destination- Keystone. Hello minus 7 degree bone chilling, blue bird conditions.


Hello to tall beers, hot apple ciders and mounds of fatty goodness.


Hello to legal “Herbal Dispensaries.”


And Hello to 1200 “Zumites.” (Stay tuned…)

10 Hours and 35 Minutes
January 13, 2011

With all the traveling skills under my belt, you’d think it would be easy to get from one coast to another. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. This time it was a little bit of both. After getting my groove on in Boston with the NB heads, I jetted back to L.A. just in time to get some clean chonies. A 10 minute drive back to the airport, I hopped and skipped my way to Denver then ended up in a little place called Steamboat- all in 10 hours and 35 minutes door to door. Why Steamboat? It has something to do with these little puppies…


…and a bunch of cool heads from the Zumiez. Before I head to the world famous 100k, the good fellas at Sales Guys and the Zumiez buying team invited me to a private session at Buff Pass (Steamboat Spring Backcountry). This place is absolutely amazing! Unfortunately for me, this will be the last pic of the day… for some unknown, whacky reason, my mind and body wasn’t flown in the right direction and I hit a tree for the first time in my life. (FYI, trees at the Pass are pretty open so I have no one to blame but my dumb-ass self.) For what could have been a life-long mistake, fortunately it was only a temporary setback. Stay tuned…

Short, Stubby, Long and Wide
January 12, 2011

Duty calls and I’m off a few hours to the east. I got in trouble last time for showing a little more than I should. So this time around let's just say it has to do something with this building.


And something that’s short, stubby, long and wide.

January 11, 2011

Somewhere between lot's of this


and this


and this,


but not this...


is what I actually do for a living.


Well not actually, but it's definitely great to finally get on the hill-droppin…

Agenda Recap
January 10, 2011 

We just came back from our first “official” Agenda show. Good vibes, quality buyers and overall great show. I was having too much fun I didn’t take any pics except Bobby took some stoned out looking-post pneumonia-no sleep ones of myself.


If that wasn’t enough, check out the Hypebeast video interview of the 686 x HUF x New Balance joint that just launched yesterday.

HUF x 686 x New Balance from on Vimeo.

From the Ground Up
January 7, 2011 

It all starts with an idea... an idea to make things better by doing it yourself. For Dustin Klein and his San Francisco bike messenger roots, it was more than that. Born in 2003, the Cadence Collection is “ create functional and esthetically pleasing pieces in a conceptual light by challenging its own self perception through each new collection and pushing the boundaries between utility, ideas, and fashion. Based out of San Francisco, the city's culture and energy has had a strong influence over the identity and progression of the brand. Starting as a small company making clothing for lifestyle cyclists, Cadence has established a strong following of fashion forward individuals who prefer being outside. Established in 2003, from the ground up.”

I’m a fan for heads who live it, regardless of the results.

686 x HUF x New Balance
January 6, 2011 

Coming this Saturday, January 8th at HUF and 686.

686 for Agenda Show
January 5, 2011 

These days I’m looking for reasons not to do trade shows, however, when it's owned and operated by heads that have the equal passion to do things better, like we try to do, I’m in. Actually, we’ve been in since day one of Agenda, but it's been behind the scenes. Starting tomorrow through Friday we'll be front and center with Agenda Show in Anaheim, Ca. Come by, say hello and how much you hate my little mash up shin-a-ma-jig.

January 4, 2011 

If you’ve been following my mashes, you’ll probably already know that we start the design process about 2 years before it hits the market. Yeah I know, how in the hell do you know what’s going to hit 2 years before it drops? The answer is I have no idea… actually we do know, but I can’t tell you all my secrets.

We’re in the heart of what we call the 2010-2011 Winter Season, meaning products are already on the shelves (and almost are sold out), resorts are open and riders are filming. At the same, we’re in midst of showing our 2011-2012 (our 19th year) winter products to stockists as I type, that is samples are being shown, trade shows are going down and orders are being taken. It all starts with what we call our Bible AKA the Book, the Mack Daddy, the 3 months of photograph/photoshop/indesign/graphic/editing hell. Although this 300 page graphic wonder has only been out for nearly 2 months, it's finally hitting the bulk of our stockists now. The rest of y’all will have to wait until September 2011 to find out if I was right about the designs I conjured up with in September 2009.




The White Stuff
January 3, 2011

I apologize for the spotty posts this past week- I’ve been out and about and somehow couldn’t find my way to a computer. No worries, let me give you a brief summary of what went on during a smidge of the holiday season. I’ll give you a hint. It has something to do with the East Coast, cows, the white stuff and something to come in the future?

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