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Mike's Mash | August 2011

August 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!

The Natural Way
August 31, 2011 

Venice Beach was my second home during my early days. If you think it’s seedy today, it didn’t compare to the mid 80’s when everything was fair game down there. Even on my skateboard, shit got gnarly before the sun went down. It was also an incredible time for free-thinking people to gather and express their unique interests. Although today its mixed with mc mansions and young Hollywood, the open spirit still remains.

I decided to stop by my friends place, smack dab in the heart of Venice to see what’s happening. I think he’s under this tree.


Bob is the founder and owner of Arbor, you know, the eco-conscious brand dedicated to the use of natural resources in their snowboards, skateboards and apparel products. It’s been a long ride for Bob and the rest of the Arbor family as they’ve always done things a little different and it's def paid off. Hey there Bob!


I’m old school, but not this old.


Talk about keeping it OG- Arbor’s been able to manage their rapid growth by doing it all in house- Packing, shipping, designing, selling, marketing and retail.


How it started.


How it spread...


...and spread


...and spread.


Like he said.


Spin to Win
August 30, 2011 

Last week my good friend Eric threw his annual Spin Dig event at his shop. Besides doing special projects for companies like Mattel, Toyota and space shuttles for mogul Richard Branson, he likes to come up with reasons to have a good ole time. (photos by Rich Kim)
Always bet on Black.


You spin me right round.


Money Matt killing it softly.


Mr. Bell x Peli = ass kick’n boots.


N.A.T. poppin' and lockin'.


Drive home safely before some kook in a blue shirt pulls you over.


August 29, 2011

Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the ASR mix (later days), we owe a lot to them for supporting us early on. As a kid, tradeshows were the Mecca for all things cool- the best pro’s in the world, the companies you'd only dream to work for and free swag to be given away. As we gradually established the biz, the seasonal mix of the “tradeshow shuffle” kinda wore on me. Let’s just say this- I’d rather catch up with homies at a bar, a food joint or in their shop. Anyway, for now, I’m still doing the shuffle for some quick meetings and I’m outta here in less than 24. Which way do I go?


Maybe a quick drop in.


Made here.


Smile please.


Store your tray and fasten your seatbelts.


Which one do you like?






Mr. Phenom always on call…


…and it all goes down with this little thing.


I know, I know.


I want it too.


Lovely people.


Work work work!


By Pete and Farmer.


Just a little extra.


Coming soon?


Made and crafted.


One stitch at a time.


You’ll see soon.


My style.




Home James!


Art of Flight- Trailer Deux
August 26, 2011 

I don’t recall ever remembering a snow flick with as much hype on an international level as the upcoming Art of Flight movie starring T. Rice, produced by Red Bull media house and Brain Farm. If OG legend Terje claims that Travis and AOF will be something out of this world, then you best believe it will.

For now, you’re gonna have to watch the second trailer to the film. Then you can meet me at the sold out world premiere in NY in a few weeks.

Let the Kids Go Out and Play
August 25, 2011 

The term pop-up has taken on more meanings through out the years. We’ve all seen retail doing it where it’s either a strategy to showcase limited releases or seasonal blow-em out bargains. One the consumer level, it's a blur as most people have no idea what a pop-up really is. “Temporary” is subjective enough to relate both the positive and the negative.

However when this pop-up trend spreads to food culture, it seems like more people take notice and react quickly. My man, Ludo, of the famous Ludo Bites is a good example as it's already sold out for his upcoming 5.0 release in LA.


What’s more interesting is that this concept can be applied to many cultural happenings like the streets. Industry brainiac, Jeff Harbaugh recently did a short what if on how we can do this in skate and snow. It was based on a story in the NY Times with closing off the streets to get kids to come out and play in front of their own homes. Kinda like a block party, but more communal and physical as we need to get the future of tomorrow off their wii’s, playstations, ipads and to go outside and play! Anyone can start something like this and put their own flip-- so what you waiting for?!


Positive Vibes
August 24, 2011 

I tend to forget that I’m running a business here, sometimes. What I mean is that over the past 19 years of doing this, it's been a great journey. It's probably the most difficult and easiest thing I’ve ever done. In other words, my life and the great people that surround me have sacrificed a shit load to get here. Time, $, blood, sweat and tears are the standards in any biz, but more importantly it's paid off in intangible ways that are all positive. I never like to call people employee’s at the office. I tend to refer to people who make up the Westlife culture as a family. Although dysfunctional at times, we try to kiss and make up if there are issues. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but most of the times is does. I’m proud to say that we’ve had family members here for well over 10 years- some over 15 years. We don’t hire that much and when we do, we try and look for other like-minded dysfunctional family members who will compliment and push the fam to do better things.

One prime example is our Northwest Faction rider, Pat McCarthy. Hey man, cheers Pat!


Besides being one of Baker’s finest and OG NW legends, Pat’s probably one of the most positive, hardworking and fun dudes I’ve had the privilege to have known. He’s been on the team for a minute, but more importantly, he’s now transitioned as our dedicated TM to bring up the next generation. If you don’t know Pat, then check out what Yo Beat has to say. I met up for some sushi grinds with Pat and young gun 686 rail master, Forest last night. Start.




Forest is killing it everywhere... on the mountain, in the park, at the rails and also at the skatepark. Dude’s gonna keep pushing it and I think the stash is helping him.


Thanks Mr. McCarthy for just being you.

Stick It
August 23, 2011 

Besides getting stuck in NZ for a week from a freak storm, I think it was a good trip for Louie. Congrats to the little buff one (aka LV) for his second place finish at the New Zealand Open last week.


Wanna know his secret… Crippler, Backside 540 Mute, Frontside 1080 Double Cork, Cab 1080 Double Cork Truckdriver and Frontside 1080 and stick it!

The Waterman
August 22, 2011 

Last week, I got invited to the Waterman’s Ball in Laguna Nigel. Welcome


Besides the usual industry round up of who’s who, it was cool to help the various organizations of Ocean Preservation. Lot's of items were being auctioned off including…


My new rising sun.


Each year, SIMA honors a few heads who’s made a positive impact on the environmental landscape that surrounds our oceans. Congrats Greg Long • Waterman of the Year, Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner • Environmentalist of the Year and George Downing • Lifetime Achievement Award.


No matter how old I get, I still fan out on Gerry.


Always remember.


Tom Campion, the founder of Zumiez, was sitting at my table. When it came time to bid on the centerpiece, Tom’s gonna win this one for sure.



In between Sal Masakela’s crack ups and realizing that Pam Anderson doesn’t like to wear that much clothing, it was a good night and overall another win win for the SIMA and its beneficiaries. Even better is the sunset outside over Salt Creek.

The Factory of Youth
August 19, 2011 

It’s strange. What I mean is that when I travel, I notice there’s a lot of cool shit going on in terms of creative expression outside the states. Don’t get me wrong, we have some insane things here at home, but it's different overseas. One example is what’s happening in the city of Merida, Spain. The local government is working directly with the community to develop an environment that supports youth culture in a fun and creative manner. Spanish architects, Selgascano refined the idea and made it a reality. Look pretty good to me.


Transitions for miles.




More reasons to get off the street and hang here at night.


Gap x 686 = WTF
August 18, 2011 

A loyal 686 customer sent me this pic last week. It’s a shot of a T at the GAP. Kinda misleading huh. Oh well, maybe I get to have a chance at “Surfin the pipe, Bro.”

Seeing Double
August 17, 2011 

…is a good thing.


The Vestal boys sent me a little something-something today. Big ups fellas. According to Scott at Vestal, they're hot off the production line. Introducing the all new Digi Dopler.


Don’t forget the one and only Restrictor.


Take a closer look.




Bo’s Way
August 16, 2011
I recently stopped by Bo’s gallery to see what the hell he’s been up to.

If you don’t know Bo then you don’t know. Dude’s got some stories to tell from his crazy adventures around the globe. Don’t believe me? Check out his work or better yet, check out a few examples of what I’m talking about.

Yes it is.

I’ll take this one.


Always stoked.


Follow the G-R-A-I-N
August 15, 2011
Fresh off the boat from Thailand and back in the mix. I checked into the new HQ to see how the construction process was going. Get one of these.
Add a few of these.

And follow the G-R-A-I-N.

Slowly but surely, walls are coming up.

Please Don’t Hug the Budda
August 10, 2011

I’m glad they reminded me.


During my journey in Thailand, I was all over the place-Bangkok, Ko Somui, Phi Phi and Phuket. Lot's of wonderful places to get refreshed to prepare what’s next. A lot of the stuff you see here may or may not have relevance in your daily life-but to me, it all does. I grew up with mixed cultural backgrounds and religious practices from my blood and extended families- Christian, Catholic, Mormon and Buddhist. Its seems confusing, but to me it was all good as I just believed in doing the right thing. Since my mom has had the biggest influence on me, Buddhism has followed my life in discrete manners. It's interesting to understand how different cultures perceive Buddha. Instead of going into details, I’ll show you a few snippets.








Follow the Signs?
August 9, 2011 

Or not? You decide.


The #.

I forgot the mankini.


Man of many talents.

No thanks.

I’m hungry.

Hole in the ground = 4 stars.

Let's give it a try.

Let it drop.

Number 18?

I’m screwed.

Uh, ok.


Bangkok Has Me Now
August 8, 2011 

Technical difficulties- sorry for the week's intermission. I had a good reason which I’ll explain later.

On the biz side, it’s a transitional time with lots of moving things. Our winter 11/12 collection is arriving at the warehouse, ready to be shipped (I know, it's still summer time), our 20th anniversary collection for winter 1213 is completely finished, fall tradeshows are happening, and we’re preparing completely new things that will blow your mind. It's my time to get the hell outta here and take a week to get inspired again! I like to go places that have nothing to do with what I do.

As the Wolfpack said it, Bangkok has me now…


Ah the clean water.


The catfish, love it.


Tickle the feet.


For the kids.






Half step at a time.

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