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Mike's Mash | February 2011

February 25, 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!

Plant That Seed
February 25, 2011 

It all starts with a dream, an idea, a seed. After doing this for 19 years, I still pinch myself that I get to do it on my own terms. It's never easy, always tough, but unforgettably rewarding to be able to work with incredible heads that inspire me everyday. Big ups to whoever sent me this.

Think Once, Think Twice
February 24, 2011

Too often we . . . enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - John F. Kennedy

Sorry, All Gone
February 23, 2011 

For our 3rd and final year working with the godfather of denim, Levis Strauss and Company, on a global level, we've manufactured a limited quantity of snowboarding denim jeans inspired off the original 1927 Levis 501® Heath Jean. The original "Heath" jean was found in an abandoned mining town in the early 1990's by a college student named Heath in the Gold Hill region of Nevada. He was doing a special project for his geology course, digging away and out popped a pair of Levi's® jeans with a torn inseam and caked with dirt. Since no one else was interested, Heath kept them. Then, in 1993, Levi Strauss & Co. held a contest to find the oldest pair of Levi's®. Heath entered and won with his jeans dated to the late 1920's. Heath's jeans were one of the first pair of 501®'s made with red selvage Cone Mills denim.

Levis blasted it to their gazillion facebook friends and posted it, so we we’re out in a few minutes. Don’t worry, you may find this coming up again sometime very soon

If All Portfolios Could Be Like This
February 22, 2011 

The good thing about being in the creative field is that there’s a lot of incredible talent out there. The trouble is that it's difficult to find someone who not only posses great skill, but also has is a good communicator and is on schedule. We get a lot of inquires from freelancers and also work some dope designers, but I don’t think I’ve seen a portfolio as put together as the 123klan. I wanna work with these dudes!

123KLAN REEL 2011 from 123 KLAN on Vimeo.

The Euro Way of Getting Biz
February 21, 2011

Done Once a year we head to Munich, Germany for the Grand Daddy show of 'em all- ISPO. It's basically the biggest tradeshow in the world centered upon winter sports. Welcome!

When we started showing here about 15 years ago, we had the smallest booth in the farthest corner of the show. Today, we’re all set up in the main hall with a killer position. However we’re running out of space quick. Sell, sell, sell.

While our queen of all things excellent, Alda, cuts some cheese for the customers.

Our booth extends to the main hallway where we let everyone make T shirts their own way. Front of the line...

to the back...

ISPO is literally a tradeshow on steroids. From mini ramps

to sneakers galore

to sustainable efforts

to um papa bands

to a better way downstairs, ISPO has it all.

Besides meeting lot's of people, selling, marketing, stoking, checking, shaking, and high-fiving, the one thing I look forward to besides this,

and this,

is going to the supposedly top secret Italian restaurant that Gumby claims he owns, Bon Gusto. Can’t tell you where it is, but just follow this green light...

up the stairs and around the corner,

and you’ll find an French wannabe Italian dude named Stephane who claims he’s the GM for 686 Europe shouting who knows what,

with a crazy dude named Gumby and one drunk ass bloke named Bird.

So, which gig are we going to next?

O-S-L-O Part Deuce
February 18, 2011 

Since I have ADD, HDADD and just about every other thing going on, it’s a surprise that I’m in a new place for more than 24 hours. Wow, I guess I’m growing up…

Besides showing support for Anders and Niklas and better understanding the Scandinavian market, checking out the local retail scene is a must. Here’s a few random places in no particular order. Sole Service was at the top of my list. (BTW this is what the shoe wall at my
house looks like in my dreams.)

Hey something familiar… Big ups to the Gourmet boys.

Everything in downtown Oslo is within walking distance.

I love roads like this.

When HM purchased Cheap Monday a few years back, a lot of people didn’t know what to think about it. Last year they started a concept working off the brand called Weekday- worth checking out.

The uneven geo story is shown throughout.

Forever 21 isn’t here yet, but Monkl is.

Check the circus glitzy theme.

However, I’m having a tough time understanding what this is supposed to mean to young teenage girls- Just asking…

Norway x Northface = Norrona.

Not from here, but one of the best there is from Scandinavia, Acne.

Well hello Kate.


Pit stop! One of the best fish and chips I have ever had- No Joke!

Almost done.

Yes I am.


As the sun set and I reflect on my experience here, I can honestly say that Norway has brought more to my eyes than I would have thought. Of course it helps when you have an incredible team here with more heart than gold, but I must say I was still missing something… I didn’t get to see Terje or Daniel?! Until I was walking down the street and saw this?

Yes, Mr. Daniel Franck is a reality TV star here.

And after looking around even more, his F’n face was plastered everywhere- I mean everywhere. My life is now complete…

O-S-L-O Part Uno
February 17, 2011

Since the early days of seeing Terje and Daniel Frank in the mags of Transworld, I always wondered what Oslo, Norway would be like. Is this a place where super human shredders are born? Is this a place where they teach you what it takes to be the first super star in snowboarding? Is this the place that hosts the Riders-Riders event aka the Arctic Challenge? I would say “Yes” to all the above, so I had to come and see for myself. As my plane lands in Oslo, I’m immediately swept away by our 686 Norwegian Mafia and taken to one damn incredible grub joint- Hell’s Kitchen x Pizza?


Yes Pizza, but its goooood.

Until now I’ve never heard of “Fernet,” and I don’t think I’ll try it again (unless my stomach is asking for it).

As much as I want to see the origins or Terje and Daniel, I’m here to check in with the good folks of ICON Distribution which is home to our Norwegian distribution partners.

We need one of these back home.


Where’s our stuff? Oh shit, its sold out!

Thanks for the tour fellas! (Dude’s name I forgot-Anders-Niklas-Espen.)

Lets go to Porsgrunn and check out your shop.


Anders was kind enough to show me a “traditional” Norwegian lunch at his dope pad. I asked him if this is what they usually have everyday- he said hell nah! (That long one is genuine horse.)

More my style.

Keep it warm.

Keep it old school-since 1766.

Did I tell you that the views are amazing in this country?

Be There In 20 Hours
February 16, 2011

On to the next one.

Demo Time
February 15, 2011

(Yeah I’m late on this, but you’re gonna have to roll with my tardiness…) The last day of the show I checked out Winterpark to see what's up with the demo. Get ready for tent-ville.



Lots of riding,




lots of new stuff,




lots of this stuff




that makes lots of that stuff




that taste pretty good, eh Konrad? (686 Kiwi Mastermind)




Oh yeah, can’t forget the real reason you’re here- to try out the new goods!




Thanks Dave. (686 Rockies Ruler)


Quality Over Quantity
February 14, 2011

About a month ago, Rick (
Skullcandy), Will (Dragon) and I started talking about the good ole days of riding. It was based upon having a good crew with epic conditions. Since most of us can’t get out like we used to, we’re all about quality over quantity. Shit if I can get a hand full of memorable days of riding, I’m stoked. So Rick proposed a “Founders Family” day of shredding during the last day of the SIA. Since day 4 is basically a wash at the show, I was in. We then gathered a few other founders of companies like Paul and Josh at Rome, Bruce at Electric, Tony from Liquid Force, Jeff at Stance, David at Recoil, Liam from TW, and a handful of others and I bailed to Vail Pass. I haven’t been to the backcountry of Vail for over 10 years- this place is rad.



Oh, we also had a special guest tag along- Mr. Terry Kidwell, aka the Godfather of Freestyle, aka OG, aka the reason I got into this game.




Hell yeah!




Rick’s got the goods.




Fuel on up.




Throughout the day I think we shuttled up close to 12 times. I don’t know if I had more fun going up




or doing this all day.




Nonetheless, it was all good. Big ups to the fam and see y’all next year.


And the Winner Is
February 3, 2011 

We just finished our first annual Live Reclaim Project contest in Denver. The Reclaim Project is
our eco-initiative on technical apparel. We’ve been producing outerwear garments made out of recycled plastic bottles and hemp/bamboo fabrications for over 15 years, however, when we looked at the entire picture, it wasn’t good enough. If the goal is to minimize your carbon footprint, you need to minimize the process. Over 25 million tons of textile related waste occurs in America alone. At the factory level offshore, it's insane how much left over fabrics and trims are thrown away and put in a landfill somewhere, so what we did was take 1st quality left over materials and "reclaim" it into one-of-a-kind pieces. In addition, for every Reclaim Jacket purchased, we’re gonna donate another jacket to someone in need. Pretty Rad huh?!!

At our inaugural SIA show, I wanted to bring this front and center so heads can better understand what this all means. We held a Reclaim Design contest and found 3 talented aspiring designers to compete on the show floor. I’m not talking about just designing on paper, I’m talking about the whole damn process- from concept to storyboard to pattern making to selecting reclaimed materials to cutting to sewing and to selling- All in 3 days!

Who’s that looking at our design contest?



View from above.




Add one of these.




With a bunch of reclaimed fabric materials and…




…reclaimed trims that would have normally been tossed away…




…with a bunch of ideas…




…and ideas




…and a lot of work (Megan from Alta).




…and work… (Julie from Brooklyn).




…and work… (Kristen from New York).




…and lots of people asking questions...




(although we had signs to let them know what’s up).




With the help from the best designers and creative directors in the snow biz (Pat from Volcom, Robin from Ride, Scott from Holden and Brad from Thirty Two), we all decided the winner is… Megan Johnston from Alta, Utah. Big ups as you’ll be seeing more of her soon.


SIA Show Highlights
February 2, 2011 

Sorry for the lag- A few days behind mashing our grand daddy of 'em all- The SIA Snow Show in Denver. All I can say is that after doing this little show for 18 years, it was
our best show to date, from incredible weather, healthy retailers, a tight collection, seasoned agents and distributors and overall good vibes. Instead of me jibber-jabbering, check out some highlights.

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January 2011 
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November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
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