Mike's Mash | March 2011
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!
The World is Yours Mang
March 31, 2011
A few days ago, I did a drive by at the Known Gallery on Fairfax to check out Patrick Martinez’s- Hustlemania.... Maybe one day.
The Seventh Letter represents LA.
Only in the City of Angels.
The Jump In.
This is how we do it.
Thanks for hosting Mr. and Mrs. Levant!
March 28, 2011
I started my career in shredding at this little mountain called Goldmine. Working at the lifts then my way of instructing- those were the good ole days. Given it was well over 20 years ago, but as long as I could pay for gas and make enough to fill my belly with junkfood, it was all good. A few years later, after I started, the resort changed its name to Bear Mountain and the rest is snowboarding history.
Because I’m all over the place, I don’t get to come back and visit my home mountain. When JC/Danny/Dingo and company announced they were bringing their annual Grenade Games to LA, I had to stop by for the day. Well hello Mr. Bear.
And hello to the Games.
Just in case…
The weather was incredible- mid 30’s, good base, good crowds and lots of heads lurking, including Mr. Malakye, the DNGO, JC and Mr. MTV.
The deck was stocked.
So was the hill.
It’s the end of March and outside of LA, it looks like this?!
Mr. Kass , microphone check.
I’d meet yah at the bottom, but for some reason I had some technical difficulties (ie: binding trouble), however, check out the rad graphics from Capita- totally rad, man!
I think this is the first time I went down the hill without my board.
Too bad I missed the Chinese Downhill through the man made mogul hill.
I had to peace out before Del (the funky homosapien) and the Game showed up- I think it was a good thing considering I kinda felt like this dude earlier on.
In the Future, We’re All Screwed…
March 25, 2011
…Well this depends on how you look at it. Of course it's common sense that the small things that we tend to ignore will eventually bite us in the ass, however, in perspective there’s a lot of “cool” things to look forward to. If anything, tech giants like Apple and Microsoft has shown us examples of how "cool" technology can work for us. Global glass and ceramics maker, Corning, shows us what they think we’ll be doing in a few years from now.
Spring 11 Drops
March 24, 2011
Last week, I showed you a preview of our Spring boardies, this week, check out a few more pieces in the tops collection. We wanted to keep the collection tight- get some before you can’t.
The Cirus Windbreaker
The Fairway Light Jacket
The Rook Lightweight Hoody
The Hi-Fi Short Sleeve Knit
The Riot Knit Tank
March 23, 2011
I don’t think a day goes by when someone doesn't ask me what “686” means?! For a long time we didn’t tell anyone so heads come up with their own interpretation. We’ve had some pretty funny ones over the years…
The truth is that 686 means a lot of different things, however, it's centered around the science of mathematics and the fact that #’s don’t lie. So naturally I’m attracted to #’s and when I stumbled across this, I had to mash it. Japanese design studio, Mitsutomo and Associates designed this little # thing.
I’ll Buy That For...
March 22, 2011
The best ads are the ones that draw you in and then sell you. I’m a true believer of creating some sort of hook that enables you to feel connected. A picture is worth a thousand words and a video is priceless. Since I’m into modern architecture and the nuts and bolts of design, I was drawn to this little sales pitch.
It Goes Both Ways
March 21, 2011
Most dudes like things simple. What I mean is that when it comes to products, there’s typically one main purpose for its use. Things get too complicated and muddled in the waters with anything outside of that. Because I’m weird like that, I’m attracted to multi-purpose products, however, the purpose has to bring me a different emotional experience. (Yes, I’m still talking about products.) Over the weekend I think I found something that not only brings this experience, but a possible better experience... the answer was splitboarding. Let me explain: I’ve been shredding for the past 25+ years and it's been a rad time, but when I look back at my stages in riding from learning to fall to going big to slamming big to park riding to rails to powder to heli to backcountry etc., it’s all been good, but I personally need something “different” to keep the stoke. Since I’m not over the hill yet, nor want to pick up something kooky like kiteboarding, splitboarding seemed interesting enough to check out. When Jared (Vans) hit me up about this private guided tour led by world famous backcountry shreds, Jim Zellers and Tom Burt, how could I say no. Only 4 hours from my house and I arrive to this secret destination.
I can’t tell you where it is just yet, but it's next to this famous street…
Maybe Jim can show you where we are (if you can read the tiny type).
Ok, ok, before I get too far ahead of myself, let me explain to y’all what splitboarding exactly is. Your snowboard actually starts off like a regular board.
With a few clicks and turns, the board splits in half and turns into two planks (aka skis).
You take these sticky furry laminates called skins and apply it to the base of the skis.
Presto- carpet based skis!
Turn 'em over and your board splits into half with actual snowboard bindings that rotate as well.
How awkward does this feel when I’m strapping on my bindings to my boots on two skis that are actually a board? Oh well, here we go…
Tom and Jim are giving last minute pointers on what’s up. I think I better listen as I have no idea (and I don’t ski)!
From then on I think my body realized few new muscle groups that’s never been touched before, put simply, I was feeling it! The skinning back in forth, the new boot-binding forward motion, the hip rotation, the arms with poles?! It's all about the technique, but I haven’t learned it yet. Either way, it took some time to get the feeling adjusted, however, the views were amazing!
Going backcountry is no joke. It doesn’t matter what the conditions are, you have to be prepared- from camelbacks, energy bars to harnesses, ice picks, beacons, probes and shovels we’re legit and ready for the expedition.
There’s been countless avalanches in the area... how the hell did this dumpster get way up there?
The next 6 hours of skinning were grueling. I guess since this was my first time up, I had a little bit of a tougher time but soon picked it up. The crazy part was when we started trekking up the face of the mountain. We had to skin at angles in order to get up the steep face. It doesn’t look steep at all here-but it was. While I was looking up, it seemed like I wasn’t moving.
Only when I looked down did it seem like I was going somewhere.
About 50 feet from the top, I made a mistake and slid down on the icy face about 20 ft. I was exhausted and pissed, but picked myself up and made it. After recharging and trying to catch my breath, we strapped our planks together, slid the bindings back in, took the skins off and was ready for the decent. Ahhhhh, this looks better and now I feel more in my element.
You ready for this fellas?!
The cool thing is that Tom Burt was critiquing us during the entire process. I know I can ride, but when Tom gives you some pointers, you listen.
I thought we would get down quickly, but it took longer than expected (which justified my sore body). There’s a good feeling when you finish, look forward and see everyone stoked and safe.
Then you look back and see what you just did.
Catch you next time while I get my ass in a Jacuzzi and drink a case of Gatorade in 10 seconds.
Something To Be Said
March 18, 2011
"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed." -Mahatma Gandhi
In Your Face
March 17, 2011
Now-a-days everyone’s a filmmaker. Shit you can make a full length movie from your iphone! So it takes a lot to impress people enough to get excited on something from the shred world let alone get heads stoked outside of snowboarding.
I think the answer is finally here with Red Bull and T. Rice’s latest tale called “Art of Flight.” I’ve seen this trailer probably 10 times and each time it makes me want to go out and be gnarly. See for yourself and let me know.
It's in the Air
March 16, 2011
I’m still in snow mode, but whenever I change my clocks, it reminds me that spring has arrived. We just shipped our latest spring assortments- check some looks starting with our Boardies.
The Echo in 4-way stretch.
Shredding + Biz = Good Times
March 15, 2011
If you were to ask anyone what their dream job is, most likely they’d answer something like “If I can actually do something I’m really into and make a living out if it, that’s my dream job!” Yes I realize it everyday, regardless of the ups and downs, I’m living my dream job. TW recently had their annual Snow Conference where they invite various figures in the industry to shred the gnar and tackle some tough issues. In all, if we can have fun at what we do and figure out ways to better grow what we all love, it’s a win win.
I headed to Solitude in Utah to get down to biz. From door to door, it only takes about 3 hours to get up here or about the same time it takes to get to Bear.
They have some dope spots here- some of the faces are pretty rad. Looky look.
I met up with friends Will (Dragon) and Arn (SOS) at the top.
Arn kept talking about doing some “hiking.” I’m always down for a hike, but I don’t think I was prepared to hike out of the bottom of the lake when Arn somehow miscalculated the ride. Only 1000 more steps on crusty snow and we’ll be back where we started.
Hurry up please!
Riding was decent, but being able to rap out with others outside a tradeshow environment was better. There were a bunch of panelists speaking about how important it is for us change the way we do things in order to prep for the future. Rick (Skullcandy) showing how it’s done.
Most of us don’t, so we have to make sure that we got the extra mile to make sure they do.
I was asked to discuss a few topics during the conference, from why it's important to be here to all the BS coming out of Asia. I dunno what people thought of what I said, but I guess it was aight enough that I didn’t get kicked out. This economist dude was here last year and came back again to speak- he’s good. It doesn’t take much to realize that we’re not out of the woods yet.
After the meetings, great conversations always happen after hours. Liam and Casey invited us to a private dinner to talk shop. Sven (Recco) brought his private reserve.
The “P!**y” needs to breath- It tastes better that way.
Stu (Zumiez and the ever famous tea parties) always brings it (sometimes things get stuck along the way).
Big ups to Adam for making the entire conference happen. He’s continually stepping up in all ways. Although I don’t necessarily get what this means.
Big ups to Adam, Liam, Rob, Mike, Josh and the T-dub family for continually pushing us forward. Now I’m gonna kick your ass at this game.
March 14, 2011
If you talk to someone who’s visited Japan, you’ll probably hear similar reasons why they love the country and the culture, from incredible places to eat to historical temples to visit, and most distinctively, how the Japanese live their lives in a pure, respectable manner. As someone who shares both origins I’ve been able to recognize the difference between Western and Eastern cultures and why they are at times similar but vastly different (and will always be unique). When something as disastrous as the 9.0 Earthquake occurs approximately a week after I left the country, it not only hits home, but reminds you we’re all vulnerable to unforeseen natural forces that are simply uncontrollable. After a while, you can’t watch another video showing the tsunami or read a story that over 10,000 people have perished. It begins to look unreal and out of a movie scene. Soon after that, something else happens in your daily life, but the news starts to show the next big thing and you can only remember what happened in a place somewhere in Japan…
Hopefully before the page turns in this chapter, we can all stop and do two things.
1) Do your part and look to help those in need. Either big or small-It all helps. Click HERE to start.
2) Think twice to see what you can do to better prepare for the unforeseen.
March 11, 2011
In my mind, if your already in the neighborhood, you might as well stop by and say hello. I don’t know if the ROC, aka Taiwan is exactly in the neighborhood of Korea, but I’m stopping by anyway. For some reason or another, I left my camera so you’re going to have to imagine what all went down in a few mashes.
Our manufacturing partners recently moved to a new office. After 14 years in a place as big as our meeting room, it's good to see that you finally have more room to take care of shit. Oh, the rooftop garden also doesn’t hurt either.
Hey, that’s my idea!
I know my pants are here somewhere.
Hold the Kim Chee
March 10, 2011
If I only come to Tokyo once a year, stopping by Korea is even more few and far between. Hailing from the city of Angels, you tend to assume LA Koreans are the norm, however, when you actually go to Korea, you see there’s vast differences as well as deep similarities. One example that’s about the same is the KBBQ- Both are hella good, but the charcoals here might be a tad better.
LA gets the win for these.
LA wins again.
Ok, ok, I’m not really here to compare and contrast- I’m here to meet up with our Korean team and review how the season went. Just like Japan, it's been one of our www.686.com best years to date. When the economy is faltering and other brands are hurting, it's good to know that we’re doing things right and making a difference. One thing that’s much easier to do in Seoul is that about 70% of all sales are done in a 1 mile radius. Yes, there are shops literally next to each other. Crazy huh?
A few doors down.
Across the street.
The other side.
One thing is for sure is that they do a good job merchandising- From live TV coverage of what's selling to what looks good. Look and try before you buy.
Brights are still popular here.
Did I mention that they like Skittles? (BTW, interesting method of displaying pants on top and jackets on bottom- I guess it's easier to visualize jackets at waist level.)
March 9, 2011
Whenever you travel, the most interesting things are right in front of you- you just have to take the time and look. A big part of why I travel so much is that I like to look at things, people and places. You never know what you see may in fact change whatever you do. The uncertainty is part of the fascination to me. I like to head out by myself and wander wherever to see how things feel. Here’s a few snippets, in no particular order, starting with a bunch of stuff that involves a lot of hustle. Looky look here.
The golden ticket.
The Real goods.
The bottom of the top.
The one and only.
The unofficial standard.
The anything but plain white.
The not ugly and old.
The one heads look at.
The not so real thing.
The king of em all.
The grand master.
It Never Gets Old Here
March 8, 2011
Speaking about being out of commission for a minute, I have to apologize for the recent lag in the mash up. The first two months of the year is absolutely silly. Too much of everything in a small period of time… nonetheless, I wanted to hit y’all up with my recent trip to Asia. There’s a little lag, but just imagine I’m still there.
First stop, Tokyo Japan to hit the tail end of that little show they have there. SBJ17?! We’ve been showing here that long?
Quite frankly this show isn’t what it used to be- but I guess a lot of things change for the better and over 80% of our Japanese biz is done before this show. The good thing is we get to catch up with our 686 Yakuza counterparts and give them high fours. (Notice Takeshi’s right index finger is missing…)
Hey, looks pretty interesting- possibly something to come in September?
Same to you!
My tolerance level at shows is minimal so after we have our meetings I’m out and about. Since I only come to Tokyo once a year now, I like to cram a bunch of shit into a few days. Today I’m gonna hook up with some ol' friends and say what's up. Down the road in the Beverly Hills side of Tokyo, it's always good to say hello to Sohn from Y.T.S.A. (You Trust Sohn Always- very Japanese huh?)
Sohn is a maverick in the biz and we’ve known each other for almost two decades when he was peddling snow goods. Now he’s the kingpin of premium eyewear and watches in the land of the rising sun. These dudes look familiar?
Always stoked to see you- catch you next month where there’s a lot more sand than snow on the ground. Speaking about sand and the beach, it's weird that you can live next to someone back home, but you only see them half way across the world. That’s what happens when I meet up with friends Shon and Pat (Fox, Fuel TV, NBC, ESPN) here. On TV, Pat lets his “professionalism” speak a little more than his true personality. Outside work it's game on. Parnell told me that he somehow convinced the DMV that he was born with a perma-grin.
…it's all good….kanpai!
March 7, 2011
If you didn’t know, our website has been down for close to two months! Yes that’s about 60 days, 1,440 hours or 86,400 minutes, but who’s counting… Although we had one of our best seasons to date, it doesn’t help when the main site has been on the sidelines. Besides spending too much blood, sweat and tears (and $) taking the necessary measures to get back online (as well as take “out” the person(s) responsible), we’re all good to go. Sorry for the short intermission, now back to our regular programming.
March 3, 2011
…is where you’ll find something bright.
2nd to Last
March 1, 2011
10 trips down and 2 more to go from this hellish Jan-Feb world tour. Stay tuned…
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March 2010: Part 1
March 2010: Part 2