Mikes Mash | November 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!
Touch and Feel
November 30, 2011
It's the end of November and this means one thing to the auto world- The LA show is in town. Since our latest collaboration with Toyota, they've asked me to stop by and answer a few questions for press days. Looks like they did the place up, huh? From the back. Coming soon. Ok, ok. Since it was closed to the public, I took the opportunity to check out a few other happenings like the... Volvo what? Come inside. White on white. I think I can fly. Fill 'er up. Oh snap. One of these days. No. Fail. Mr. Belvedere. I wonder what this little thing is. Snap, snap, who's gonna hold my umbrella? This is the car you're driven in... take me home Michi!
November 29, 2011
I love this place.
I also love this.
I'm trying to find something.
Maybe it's up these stairs.
I think I found part of it.
November 28, 2011
Since I've had my fair share of travel, I'm also been through my fair share of airports. Y'all already know that LAX is at the bottom of the list in terms of delayed flights, crowds, crappy food, poor retail, etc. etc. On the flip side, there's a few of them that stand out with Hong Kong being one of the top on my list. Stateside, I'm really diggin' what SFO has done to their new terminal. I had some meetings up North and noticed something pretty cool at the airport.
Oh hell yeah!
Circa before your time.
Bern Helmets x 686 Carbon Fiber Rooftop
November 23, 2011
Following the release of our concept car with Scion Racing last week, I’d like to show you some of the details we went through. For 2012, we’re working with Bern helmets on a product launch and I thought it would be fun to bring them into the car build. We used their proven Watts helmet with their patented brim design and made a custom rooftop that mimics the actual helmet. We took it one step further and made them both out of Black Carbon Fiber. Check out the product vs. the product (minus the gopro).
Looks easy to mimic, but making the rooftop of the car to look like Bern’s visor brim was a bitch.
Kings Road Café
November 22, 2011
Louie was in town for some random happenings. I think LA’s his second home, considering he now has lot of reasons to come down. When I asked him where he wanted to meet up, he said lets go to “King's Road Café.” Kings Road on Beverly is a cool joint and smack dab in the middle of Young Hollywood. It's like a mini tradeshow for the city. LV’s on this major diet, considering Apollo Ono’s trainer has him working his arse off. What's up man!
Damn, you like the hot stuff!!
World Famous- Are you sure, you’re not from here?
No diet for me.
If you thought Red Bull did a lot for Shaun, watch out what they’ll do for Louie.
After breakfast we were walking back to my whip and saw something on my windshield. I was like “damn, another ticket?" I looked closer and saw a Frank 151 on my car. I look a few hundred feet away and I see this dude with a grey crew and khaki pants talking on the cell with his arms all up and down. I quickly knew it was Frank general, Stephen Malbon probably takin' care of biz. LV and I cruised down and Stephen took us up to his new digs. This is what he does all day as he tells his employees to get shit done.
Franks War room.
C/O Stephen Jr.
C/O Craig Wetherby.
The Good Ole Days
November 21, 2011
We just wrapped our 20th anniversary catalog for the 2012/2013 Winter season. According to Kristin, who heads up our marketing, this has been one of the most “painful” catalogs to date. I think she’s referring to the fact that we had a lot of shit going on and wanted to make sure it was all reflected in the new catalog. 300 pages of our double decade will exclusively be ready for stockists around the globe. The rest of y’all will see what this all means in August 2012. A little while ago we did our studio photo work in LA and OC. To bring it full circle I somehow convinced Kristin to bring back some old faces throughout the years and participate in the photo shoot. I couldn’t make it to the Girl’s day of shooting, so I rallied all the dudes and we had a good ole time. The day started off fresh with Canadian backcountry master and alum, Gaetan Chanut. G-man rode for us from 2002-2005 and represented hard. Lights-Camera-Gaetan!
Kevin Zacher made a guest appearance and was all excited in his Snaggle-Tights. Kevin rolls back deep with 686 all the way from 1994 where he was our Agent for AZ and parts of Cali. He then transitioned into being our photographer for 686 the turn of the millennium. After hanging with us, his career really took off, becoming one of the most iconic photographers in all of Snowboarding for TW publication and the Big B. A few years back he made a stage left exit from Shredding and is now one of the most sought after photographers in lifestyle and fashion. Kev-Stop acting like you’re a bad ass, even though you really are.
Why the hell you bending your knees, son?
Ethan “E-Stone” Fortier is larger than life. I’m definitely not talking about his height, I’m talking about his rad personality and his wonderful fuzzy beard.
E-Stone started with 686 back in the mid 90’s while ruling Colorado with all the shred legends of yester-year. Today MFM, Cole and E-Stone lead the Tech Nine posse from SLC and have their own thing going on. Hold still will you!
In between being the senior photog for Snowboarder and running T9, one thing you’ll never see Stone in is fitted pants. These may not look tight to you, but if ya’ll seen him around the way, this is a rare occasion.
The shoot wasn’t for all the ole dudes, we brought the new generation in and Forest Bailey is leading the charge. When you think about it, Forest was born about the same time 686 was born- that freaks me out a bit, however, I think he’s already claiming his next year’s set up.
You can get whatever you like, just make sure you trim that stash of yours once in a while, aight?!
New Balance x 686 Snow/Rain Tires
November 18, 2011
Per the previous mash up of our car collaboration with Scion Racing x 686, each aspect of the custom build is inspired from a brand that’s been a part of our 20-year history. We’ve just finished the 3rd season of our NB686 boot collaboration and now working towards the 4th season in 2012. So the idea was to manufacture snow and rain specific tires that reflect the treads of our NB686 boots and brand them as New Balance tires.
Easier said than done. Look closer.
November 17, 2011
A few months I was at IKEA getting wooden butcher blocks for our new digs when this kid came up to me and asked if I was “Mike West.” At first I didn’t know what to think- did I do something wrong? Actually the kid just wanted to shake my hand and say he liked the stuff we do. I was like cool, thanks for the support. Although we do a lot of cool things and meet rad people, if anyone knows what it takes to run a biz, you probably also know it takes great people to make it happen. My life is immersed in all things design and creative, but I actually went to school to get my undergraduate and graduate degrees in biz. In fact I was on the path to become a lawyer?! Yeah, pretty crazy and I’m glad I took a different route. It’s not that I’m into all the legal mumbo jumbo stuff (well actually yes it is), it's because I like to rely on the best in the legal field that really kick ass.
Good friend, Greg Weisman is the attorney to the best brands in the Action Sport and Fashion Industries. Being able to work with heads like him really make me stoked to do what I do. What happening G-Dub.
One bite at a time.
Only in LA.
Support Specialty Retailers
November 16, 2011
I grew up in skateboarding in a small city in Los Angeles. When you’re young and naïve, you tend to look for outlets of support. Whether it's your friends or family, most of the things that you experience in your younger years have a direct impact on your future. One of the positive things that happened to me was when I skated for a local shop called Spyder in Hermosa Beach. The team consisted of all my friends I already skated with, but the cool thing was the local support and comradery of where I come from. Fast forward over 20 years later, the world is vastly different with “localism” being a global term. E-commerce has changed everything we do, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the feeling of belonging to your hood. More than ever, specialty retailers need your love and support. Surfside in Costa Mesa is one example of what I’m talking about. Duke, Paul and the rest of the SS crew live and love it. Last week, they had their 20th annual winter carnival and I had to stop by and give props. Banner brigade in affect.
Tents and tons of kids looking for free shit.
Blow it up.
AOF general T. Rice stoking out the kids.
686 local captain and flag flier, James grillin’ away.
You make a lot of kids smile, James.
I’m the official clinic dude for the day. Representin'.
Everyone’s stoked that our local mountains' got some white stuff this early in the year. Mr. Melnik showing me what his driveway looks like only a few hours away.
I also think Boss-Man at Surfside agrees.
November 15, 2011
Scion Racing put on a private media event for us last week at the famous Kim Sing Theatre in downtown LA. As y’all know, I’m not a big fan for being in front of the camera, but since this special project took so much out of us (in a good way), I’m stoked to show some of it off. My homie, Eric from Spin Imaging and our special projects lead industrial designer, Michi (or as we call him Michelin or Wanagon, depending on what day of the week it is) also talk shop.
Numeric: 686 and Scion Snowboarding Concept Car from 686 Technical Apparel on Vimeo.
November 14, 2011
Everything has a purpose at 686. We don’t do things just ‘cuz, we do it because we want to constantly innovate and keep heads thinking. When we were designing the 20th Anniversary collection, I thought it would be cool to tell a story about how each year helped define the brand. There were a lot of people that have supported our vision who I’m completely grateful to, but I chose 20 influencers from 1992-2012 that made the mark. Since 686 is about moving forward and not being confined to a box, we brought all of the year’s full circle to one product. For 2012, we worked with Scion Racing scionracing x Spin Imaging and developed a concept car that did just this. Words cannot explain the complexity in nature of what we wanted to do. We didn’t just give it a cool paint job, add some snow tires and call it a day. We started from ground zero and re-created the car into a winter story around snowboarding. After more than a year of planning and a half of year building the actual car, it's finally here. I’d like to proudly present the first of it's kind, The 686 Scion Numeric Concept Car.
Like I previously mentioned, what makes this different than anything else out there is that each aspect of the build was directly inspired from a product or brand that’s progressively pushed snowboarding and skateboarding over the past 20 year history of 686. Each brand brought a unique twist to Numeric's unique look. The snow specific tires reflect NB686 snowboarding boots and are branded as New Balance tires. The top of the car is designed like a Bern protective carbon fiber helmet, complete with their patented brim technology. The windshield is designed from Dragon’s APX frameless goggle and offers full peripheral view inside the car. The Sparco modified seats are inspired from actual Union® team snowboard bindings and are constructed in a high-back cup shaped form. The sound system is engineered and designed by the Skullcandy team, which used their premiere Aviator headphones as inspiration. GoPro came in with their POV expertise in visual racing mirrors and interior mapping. Vestal watches and their ZR-3 Chronograph inspired the custom built time gauges. The devil is in the details and Freewaters sandals clearly did this in the first ever heated floor mats. BOA Technology added their “dialed” in fit to the cars heating and cooling system. Recco Avalanche Rescue systems supplied their sophisticated radar technology on the road and mountain terrain. Blind skateboards legendary artist, Marc Mckee provided his custom touch to the interior panels. To finalize the winter shred story, 686’s technical textile background pushed manufacturing boundaries by successfully wrapping the world’s first and only fully functional waterproof and breathable snowboarding outerwear vehicle, complete with stitched panels, laser welded seams, waterproof zipper and mesh venting.
Numeric made its automotive debut last week in Las Vegas at the SEMA car show and will soon travel to all the auto shows around the globe. Heads in our industry will take their first look in the 686 booth at SIA in Denver from January 26-29, 2012. Stay tuned for detailed storyboards on how the hell it all went down.
November 11, 2011
The auto aftermarket industry is huge! I thought I used to floss out my whip when I was a runt, but today it's beyond what I would have ever imagined. Last week, I did a quick 24-hour trip for press on our car at the inaugural SEMA show in Las Vegas. Welcome everyone.
Inside is where it gets more interesting.
From the bottom, it looks like one of mine.
However, pan up and I only wish it was.
Take a look at that.
Another fine one care of Spin Imaging.
Mr. Knight has nothing on this one.
Ready and willing.
Ford’s been pushing hard in the Rally world.
Look into my eyes.
GoPro and Todd making it happen.
Saved the best for last.
Front and center.
Doesn’t look much here, but this laser welding process on our genuine waterproof/breathable fabrics took over 5 full days to produce correctly. The goal was to emulate how proper venting in snowboarding relates to venting in the car.
How about some looks outside.
After several interviews and way too many pics, it was time to go out for dinner and drinks. I wasn’t necessarily expecting my tapas this way.
Yes, I like.
Time, what time?
Although I’m completely exhausted, somehow, someway, I seem to get dragged out by my friends. Lights, camera, trouble.
I wonder what she’s looking at?
Thanks, but no thanks.
7 am flight back to LA- I’m done. Goodnight Las Vegas.
November 10, 2011
I don’t know about y’all but I’m in front of the computer way too much. Lately, it seems like a great majority of my time has been engulfed by being in the office. It's crunch time for everyone here, so we’re limited on just about everything. However there’s a few heads in my world that immediately get my attention and Chad’s one of them. Mr. Malakye hit me up a little while ago for lunch- I’m in. It doesn’t hurt when their offices are just down the street either.
How about some Shmoozing.
How biz gets done at Malakye.
I couldn’t agree more.
Rochambeau for lunch- I got it this time, son.
Hello, my name is...
Skate and Create
November 8, 2011
Most y’all know that back in the day, skateboarding was everything to me. Street skating in the mid to late 80’s laid the groundwork for me to start 686 in the early 90’s. Since then I’ve always been drawn to independents that live the passion to do things themselves. Jamie Thomas and his Black Box empire of brands (Fallen, Zero, Slave, Mystery, Insight) have done just that. In honor of the independent spirit of skateboarding and how it’s influenced 686 and snowboarding throughout the years, we teamed up with Jamie and Fallen to produce a capsule collection of technical outerwear that can be used from the street to the hill.
I recently stopped by Black Box to say what's up to the crew. Who’s that kook with the weird black glasses? I think Slash and Jamie are pretty stoked with the gear.
Mr. Lewis and Transworld Biz came along and did a little interview.
If you like the goods and can still find them, check 'em out. The Fallen 686 Field Jacket
The Fallen 686 Flannel
The Fallen 686 Cobra Jacket
November 7, 2011
November 4, 2011
I’m drawn to movies that make you feel like you’re part of the story. The ones that engulf 100% of your attention to what’s in front of you at that moment in time. Music videos, on the other hand, have a difficult time doing this due to its short time span. I’ve been following up in coming director Melina Matsoukas for a minute and I think she’s captured an incredible story in her latest gig for Rihanna and Calvin Harris. I think a lot of heads can relate to the highs and lows of a passionate relationship, however, mix it with a few foreign substances, then the ride kind of changes.
November 3, 2011
Always on, check out Pat’s latest addiction with doin’ work. Steady Stackin’ care of...
The limited edition Deconstructed Denim pant in 20,000 wp and 15,000 gm2 breathability.
November 2, 2011
I’ve met a lot of talented people in my lifetime, but only a few standout as both a character and pure creative talent and Mel Marcelo is one of them. Check out his latest on Mr. Jobs during his younger days. Big ups Mr. Mel.
Nothing Like You’ve Seen Before
November 1, 2011
It will all make sense very soon. Stay tuned…
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May 2010: Part 1
May 2010: Part 2
April 2010: Part 1
April 2010: Part 2
March 2010: Part 1
March 2010: Part 2