Mike's Mash | July 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!
July 29, 2011
“Over two years ago, two friends from different worlds set out to find the best tequila. One was from a suit and tie real estate business and the other was a sunglass company owner where edgy jeans and t-shirts were the norm.
They both shared a love for Mexico, surfing and tequila. They both had gone on dozens of trips throughout Mexico for various surfing adventures where beers and various tequilas were always present. There was a mix of danger and beauty in those Mexico trips. Uneasy and apprehensive feelings were felt prior to leaving; knowing the sketchy border crossing, armed 16 year old Federales with M-16 machine guns, corrupt police officers, filthy jails and bad roads.
But there was also knowledge of the beautiful side to Mexico full of calm people, picturesque beaches, perfect waves, cold beers, and great tequila. Like Mexico, tequila is dangerous. It's not like other alcohol such as beer, wine and vodka because when you drink tequila you know it's going to be fun, wild and perhaps dangerous/Peligroso! Those two friends experienced the beauty and dangers of Mexico time and time again.
It was an experience of great surf, rowdy bars, meeting certain crazy Mexican people, being chased by cops, having had all of our gear stolen, hangovers and too many stories to tell; but for every crazy, wild and scary story there was also one of isolated untouched beaches, perfect waves, nice, generous people, the insane meal of fish or lobster at a bargain price, the fun bar where the beers were ever flowing and the tequila set the mood for a fiesta never to be forgotten." (via the Story)
Kinda says it all there, but I like to see things for myself. This afternoon I stopped by Peligroso’s HQ down south. Well hello edgy t-shirt jeans guy.
The minute you walk in, you get a feeling on what the hell it all means.
It didn’t look like this before.
It used to look like this.
Speak the story throughout.
C/O Mark Healy.
Some of that...
a sprinkle of this...
and a visit to GP’s...
for this masterpiece.
Cast in Stone
July 27, 2011
Today was a big day moving forward with the construction of our new HQ’s. It’s concrete day! Just need 10 more of these things and we’re good to go.
Before we start, got to make sure the steel is set correctly... the essential part of the process.
Double knots please.
Ready! Let it flow.
Get it in there.
Make it strong.
Keep on fillin'.
Make it smooth.
July 25, 2011
I’m a dude that takes pride in staying on top of things no matter how crazy it gets. However, lately it seems like I’m playing catch up. Last week I took the red eye to the NYC for some things. One of them had to do with shows back East. Almost there…
The definition of a “tradeshow” has changed over the years. Yes, it's still a place to do business and yes it’s a place to get press within the industry. However, I think buyers and brands are more smarter about what they want. The selection is more specific and directed to what matters to the bottom line. The lets flip a coin and see what happens type of brands are no longer around. It's more business and less the wild west crazy days. I guess it’s a good thing, but a lot of great ideas and innovation occurred during those days. I checked out Project in Soho and ran into a few good ones.
Case in point is Hartford Denim Company.
Three dudes out of college doing their thing with everything on the line- Heart, Soul and great product. Pay attention to this guy, I guarantee you’ll see more of them in the future.
The good shit.
Tools of the trade.
Down the way, it's always great to catch up with Eric and Tracy from WESC.
The man of many hats is making his mark, Lyndon from Herschel Supply Company.
The Agenda show has quickly become the standard in street and action sports sector. Why? Because they listened to their customers. Hello Agenda NYC.
Hello Mr. Agenda.
Packed, locked and loaded.
Lights, camera, Karmaloop.
Convenience is key for retailers. And so was water bottles with horses on them at Capsule.
The show was bumpin' but you had to hike to get in.
July 22, 2011
My personal style is to keep my head down and let my work do the talking. However, I’ve been making more of an effort in letting people know certain facets of doing business that are close to my ideals. One of them is the mantra we speak at 686– to always be innovative with the integrity of producing high quality products. I learned this first hand by doing it all myself starting close to 20 years ago in the heart of the garment district in downtown LA. No amount of school could prepare me for what it took to start a company from nothing. US made products come at a cost in many different ways, but in my mind led to the development of what we are today. For that I’m very thankful and more importantly, looking forward to this next generation of product being made here.
Transworld did a little article on my views- If you’re bored, check what I had to say here.
July 21, 2011
When I was going to college at USC, back in the day, I remember my homies telling me there were a few apparel veterans that have been through the same halls in Southern California. Probably the most notable and successful was Mossimo Giannulli. Growing up in the beach area, Volleyball was king and you couldn’t escape the super bright shorty shorts from Sideout, Club and of course, Mossimo, in the late 80’s to early 90’s. However, Moss really took it to another level bringing a fashion flair to everything he did. During the early days of ASR, Moss’s booth was like no other. Beach Volleyball was probably the furthest thing you’d think about when you saw his line. Heads didn’t understand the word fashion forward until Moss did it. He rolled deep in everything he did, taking it from small beach brand to a fashion brand to a full scale public company reaching a $1 billion market cap. Like with most things on top, he succumbed to the ups and downs of Wall Street and nearly lost it all.
Today, the mainstream knows Mossimo from Target. Even in this mass realm, Moss was on the forefront and laid the blueprints for many to follow. Over $3 billion in sales for the second time coming ain’t bad for someone who just wanted to do things different. However, that was many yesterdays ago as Moss has shed all the hassles of running a public brand and has moved way forward with other positive endeavors. Today, I stopped by his new offices to see what's been going on. I think it's around here somewhere…
I think its between these bushes and behind the fountain.
Moss and I have been talking about random things for a while. Most of it has nothing to do with biz, but just misc things like the stuff he’s been through. It's always enlightening and inspiring when you have successful visionaries who’s been through the gamut. Even more so, when you can feel the passion that still resonates in his means of doing something new and fresh. Moss, always thinking and planning.
Just in case you didn’t know, Moss has a few brands in the works such as Modern Amusement (Founder Jeff Yokohama and Moss go back a few decades) and have been carefully crafting the crows next generation.
July 20, 2011
A few weeks ago, I got hit up that Captain Elliott Neese was representing hard on the season finale of The Deadliest Catch- you know the uber popular show documenting crab fisherman in Alaska. I missed the live finale, but stoked to see that Young Neese was flying the 686 flag, true AK style.
July 19, 2011
Speaking of summatime, get yours while the suns still out. The Realm.
My favorite, the Gatsby.
Word is Bond.
Catch the rest here.
July 18, 2011
The marine layers is gone, water's getting warm, sunlight by 8am, finally it's summertime! (or as my cousins put it- summatime) It's so good here, it got me inspired to take a quickie over the border for a night. How's this?
I’m always fascinated by rock formations. I still have yet to check out the Wave Rock in Oz, but we’ll leave that for next week… They're different everywhere but I don’t think I’ve seen something like this before. Kinda looks like it's alive.
Most of the time down South, things are safe. However it's still a little freaky when you see the Policia strapped down to the nine. The taxi driver tells me that they have to keep their faces totally covered so the drug lords can’t ID them and hunt down there entire family. I think I’ll keep my distance just in case.
I need something else to think about- this is more like it.
How’s that for a one-nighter.
Art in the Streets in the Museum
July 15, 2011
I know you’ve seen it on the blogs and countless other sites, but if you’re in LA, you gotta check out Moca’s “Art in the Streets” exhibition. I can’t count the number of shows I’ve been to over the past few decades, but what makes this show different than the rest is this isn’t supposed to happen on this type of scale. What makes it more compelling is that NYC luminary, Jeffrey Deitch is leading the charge for Moca with the backing of street cred curators Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose.
Roll right up to the entrance and you’ll see Yogi was just here.
Every aspect of the building was utilized to showcase over 50 of the best street and graffiti artists today. Watch out for the rats when you enter.
Invader is watching you.
Monsieur Andre is taller in person.
My point exactly.
Back in the day.
Enter if you dare!
Neckface is kinda out of it.
Banksy made his mark.
The hit heard from around the world.
Follow the rules.
Tools of the trade.
Upside down and right side up.
The glory days.
Lost and found.
I like to keep busy, but this is kinda silly. Y’all know we’re trying to move into our new HQ in LA, but it's been hell trying to get past the city with permits. The good news is that after a whole f’n year working with engineers, architects, attorneys, brokers, agents, and countless city officials, we’ve broken mf’n ground!
One of my pitfalls is being “too” involved with shit. I’ve done countless big and small construction projects throughout my life, but each time you do a new one, it’s a new learning experience. I know you probably don’t care, but if you’ve heard of the saying “double the cost and double the time.” It's true and it starts with the ground up.
Rough plumbing is in! I think I can finally add architect and general contractor to my resume (which is not a good thing).
July 13, 2011
What started out as a surf trip with his buddies in 2002, has quickly led to dominating the marketing place as the #1 POV camera company in the world. GoPro has solidified its leadership and I think you’re gonna see some entirely new inventions coming up soon. Maybe real soon…
Big ups Todd for sending a little something our way. Stay tuned to see what we’re going to do with it.
Look into the eye.
July 12, 2011
Who doesn’t like Kenny Powers? I think K-Swiss recognized that males aged 16-24 worship Mr. Powers so much, they turned heads when they launched their Powers x Tubes campaign last year. I personally thought it was a dope tie in as I would have never expected it from the shoe company. However blame it on power agency house, 72andSunny here in Culver City for making this happen. Yesterday, they told me that Mr. Powers is now the M-F’n CEO of K-Swiss. Don’t believe me? See below for yourself.
July 11, 2011
Swap meets, road shows, flea markets- Call it what you will, but it’s the best place to get some great finds (if you know what to look for and where to look).
Yesterday, I hit the world famous Rose Bowl market in Pasadena, Cali.
Kinda feels like I’m going to the circus.
The market happens once a month and all types of heads come out of the wood works. Top designers and creative teams get here as early as 5am to see what the vintage traders got going. When we started working with Levis on our inaugural collaboration 4 years ago, Caroline (head of global creative) told me she would even do some “pre-negotiations” with key dudes there. The apparel area is so large that it can be its own show, however, I wasn’t here for that, but for something else… maybe rock posters?
Or maybe metal signs?
What a coincidence.
You sure these things are horns?
Here we go! I know it doesn’t make sense now, but it will soon.
July 8, 2011
Earlier this week on July 4th, we put on the world famous Ironman competition in Hermosa Beach. It's something so stupid, it's kinda fun. More importantly it’s been a tradition for nearly four decades. Check the madness below as well as the video to wrap it all up. Line the boards up.
Mr. Ironman himself, Bergie making sure he sets the record straight with the media.
We actually made a starting line this year.
On your mark, get set, GO!
Grab your board and start paddling a mile.
Drop your board and the madness begins.
One too many.
Don’t believe me, watch the craziness here.
July 7, 2011
“Time heals all wounds, unless you pick at them.” -Shaun Alexander
Mr. West is in the building. As much as I’d like to pick, Scott Schuman’s Satorialist shows that Ye’s in a league of his own.
On a Higher Note
July 6, 2011
When our HQ’s was down south in Irvine, I had the chance to hang with a lot more friends down there. Since I live in LA and our temporary offices are as close as they’ve ever been, I’m never down there. Yes, I know it's only about 45 minutes away, but we have this stupid “curtain” we don’t pass. Well screw it, I’m going pass the curtain to say what’s up to my homies at Skullcandy.
Skullcandy is based out of Park City, Utah, but a little over a year ago, Carter and company opened there West Coast arm. I haven’t been to the Utah location, but the skate theme is consistent in both locations. I think you have to drop in to get to the meeting room.
Carter is in charge of global marketing for the brand. He has a long history in the industry for doing some incredible things with Arnette and Electric. When he made the move to SC, it made a lot of noise, however, that was then and this is now. Isn’t it fitting his office looks like this.
I was actually here to rap out with Levine on some stuff. I’ve known him from his REI-Hurley days where he was in charge of all things creative. He then moved on to become the president of RVCA before coming to SC as the head of global creative and merchandising. If time was not an issue, I think the both of us would be able to talk about geeky things for days. He’s in the Utah office 4 days a week and back here in OC Friday on. I guess I can’t complain about my commute anymore.
Down the hallway, I ran into Eric from Celtek. He’s relocated down here and shares the offices. It’s nice to run into him outside a tradeshow. Next time, I’ll see you on the hill- aight!
Btw, nice whip Eric.
Overall the visit was long overdue. To make a long story short, the crew at SC has a lot great things going on. Whatever you know about them, it's gonna be increasing in the utmost positive ways. I think a few more of these will be coming their way.
July 5, 2011
A little over a year ago, I started mashing about starting construction of our new HQ in LA. If heads know me, I like to build things. One of my dreams is to be able to craft a new compound that would house all our operations. I was lucky enough to make it happen- We moved out of our offices in Irvine and relocated back to my hood in the LA area. The only issue was that we were not moved in yet. What I mean is that we’ve moved out of OC, but in a temporary location due to “permit” issues with the new building. With building codes changing and a combination of a lackluster team, the building's been sitting, however, the good news is that we recently started again and now we’re jamming. Stay tuned for updates coming soon….
In the meantime, it's gotten me motivated again to check out the details of what's coming inside. Last week, Dwell on Design was in town again and I stopped by for a few.
Kohler is the mack daddy of bathroom and kitchen fixtures. They just introduced the most technically advanced toilet in the world. I know this won’t make it in our new HQ, but at least they're thinking.
I don’t know if it looks comfortable enough for me.
I think this thing can actually take a crap for you.
I’m all about creating textures and depth in whatever I design. Cork is a great example of how this can be achieved.
Yeah you know what it is- Black and Tan, Black and Tan, Black and Tan.
I think this is what our next tradeshow booth is gonna look like.
A flat piece of laminated wood or...
When you make something yourself, it's interesting to see something almost identical, however, it's only about 10x the cost. Maybe I should reconsider my day job.
This is like...
Crystal White it is.
I found my new skate.
They don’t make 'em like they use to.
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