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Mikes Mash | January 2012

January 30, 2012

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!

Good Design Starts
January 30, 2012 


Reclaim Project-Taiwan Drop
January 27, 2012 

Since our development office is in Taiwan, its great we can get them involved in the Reclaim Giving process. A few hours outside Taipei city, we were immediately in the mix with tons of kids ready to have a good ole time. Sign in here Line up here Get stoked here You know that Headed to the temple next to the school and prayed for the kids and their well being Thank you for caring Giving starts by letting go Letting Go

Reclaim Project-Tokyo Drop
January 25, 2012 

Trash->Reclaim->Sell->Buy->Donate If you buy one of our Reclaimed jackets, we promise to Donate one jacket to someone in need. I’m in Tokyo for several donation drops, however since my time’s cut short, I’m available to be a part of only one of them. We stopped by Chigasaki Farms to show some love for the kids. Line the goods up


Prep the Reclaimed jacket


Have the Director of Chigasaki Farms give the thumbs up



East bound and up
January 23, 2012 

January and February are my busiest months of traveling. This week, I’m in Asia to finish off the donation drops for our Reclaim Project. Internets slow so you’re gonna have to do with more seeing than reading.











Mountains beyond Mountains
January 20, 2012 


At least someone’s getting it
January 19, 2012 

The Alps in Austria has stolen all our white stuff. It’s cool you can borrow it, but can you please return the favor next week- We REALLY need it. Don’t believe me? Check out Peter Sandner snorkeling in the OG Smarty Cargo pants and Smarty Command jacket.


Powder alert in western Austria! from Peter Sandner on Vimeo.

New kid on the block
January 18, 2012 

There’s a new kid on the block and they dropped by and said hello




Swiss made courtesy of hOme


Reclaim Project-LA Drop
January 17, 2012 

The 686 Reclaim Project is based upon two things. The first is to minimize the process of bringing product to market by the lowest form of manufacturing. The second is to create a self-sustaining cycle of social and eco goodness. TRASH->RECLAIM->SELL->BUY-DONATE. Check the video for a quick update on what we’re trying to do.


The RECLAIM Project: 2011 Process from 686 Technical Apparel on Vimeo.

Giving is truly better than receiving and 686’s RECLAIM PROJECT’s final cycle is to make sure we can properly donate Reclaimed products from the purchase of Reclaimed products. If you BUY a one-of-a-kind Reclaimed jacket, we will GIVE one away to someone in need. Since we sold a few thousand reclaimed jackets this year, we’re gonna give a few thousand away and the first drop is LA! We all took the day off and headed to Hollywood’s LA Youth Network

We brought them in by the box loads. Kristin leading the charge and wrangling them up

It was a short stop as we’re limited on the interaction with troubled minors under 18 years. We received a tour of the temporary shelter, dropped the goods and peaced out. Only a few miles down the way in downtown LA, we made the last drop to Homeboy Industries. Their motto- - “nothing stops a bullet like a job,” resonates pretty deep.

I’m glad I remembered to bring my own…

Interestingly enough, Homeboy is a stone’s throw from our first HQ at the Brewery arts community. Throughout Homeboys space, you can see how Father Greg’s efforts has made a huge difference to the local community

Father Greg started Homeboy Industries by wanting to offer an alternative to gang violence and assisted at-risk individuals, recently released and former gang members trying to better their lives through employment. The “Industries” relates to the several businesses that “Homeboy” has, from Counseling to Bakery to Screen printing to Maintenance, Education and Tattoo Removal, they got some positive things going on.





A lot of heads don’t know this, but back in the day we had some sketchy times with heads helping me out in the warehouse. Hailing from LA, I was friends with a bunch of different heads. Some of them didn’t necessarily have the best resumes, but in my mind if they were cool with me and hardworking, why wouldn’t I offer them a job? It turned out that most of them were in some of the hardest gangs in LA and we had some crazy times, which I’m thankful, turned out okay. It made me realize that equality is the standard, but as an owner-operator, it's also my responsibility to make sure my employees and families are always safe. My gangster employees had my back, but they also attracted trouble from rival gangs, which none of us wanted. I vividly recall the day when the FBI called me while I was at a trade show and said “someone’s been shot , do you know this person?” From that point on, I made an agreement to myself that we had to be legit in every aspect, even if I had to be the asshole to tell them. I couldn’t agree more

It was mad busy that day as grips of heads were rollin' in and out, as we started to bring the Reclaimed goods in

Stack em deep

Cita and Drew getting ready for the lineup (no pun intended)

Big man in a small colorful reclaimed jacket=priceless

Our reclaimed giveaway jacket

The ever-lasting cycle

Give and let Give. Thks for the smiles

Shop Kid
January 16 

When I was working and riding for my local skate shop back in the early days, the term “shop kid” was something I looked up to. To me, it was defined as someone who was proud to represent his hood and all the cool things the shop did. Kinda like someone calling you a “local grom.” As I started to grow up and be around people in the industry, the term started to mature into other meanings other than what I grew up on-from someone who had limited knowledge and only keen to their surroundings. I don’t know how this really started, but I do know that the true meaning of a shop kid in today’s world is a powerful positive thing. In an era where its too easy to get whatever you want at the touch of your fingertips, brick and mortar local knowledge is KING. The shop kid is truly your gatekeeper to success or failure as a brand. 686 takes pride in supporting the people who live it day in and day out, and we definitely wouldn’t be here without the fans and believers of what we’re trying to do.

686 has built a loyal following over the two decades and we’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of people and shops across the globe, big and small. Coming up from a tiny beach town with a few local independent skate shops, I know the true meaning of what supporting local means and how it has an impact on the town. I also understand what happens when larger organizations come in and how they can change the overall landscape. I can’t tell you what’s better or worse, but I can tell you its still possible to create the same feeling of localism and passion with being big. I just returned from the annual Zumiez 100k event in Keystone, Colorado and I’m still blown away how much energy and passion the “shop kid” continually brings. It pushes and inspired me even more. (FYI-Zumiez is one of the largest action sport retailers in the US and puts on an event called the 100k. Any Zumiez shop kid who sells more than $100,000 in product is invited to come party and ride with all the execs and pros in the industry) Enough with me talking, let me get my shit together and I’m off. I have a pocket in my jacket for each one of these goodies


Who needs snow at Keystone when it can be MADE


LA and PA in the house-Bobby Hundo and LV rollin' up


686 team general Pat McCarthy bringing his good vibes to Colorado


Is this the way down or are we getting ready to watch a concert?


Revok and Rime playing in the snow


LV ain’t no Revok


We charged the hill with a bunch of good ole folks, had the godfather dinner with the TW family and before we knew it, the sunset and it was time to get all loose at the infamous 100k party.


There’s over 1,200 shops kids in the house that sold over $100k in product. Here’s your top 50




Jay Rose leading the pack for IE and Hawaii


From sea to shining sea


This is where it gets a little weird for me. Well not really, but yes really. Zumiez invites the founders of companies on stage to say a little something. Some take it to next level while others are short and sweet. I think its still weird for me, cuz I’m not use to people yelling, screaming at me or asking for my autograph. Do they know that I’m the dude that sits in the office and travels way too much. The riders on the cover of mags are the ones who you really want to see. Regardless, I’m blessed to have them into the things we’re into. I tell them a few words about following what you believe in and being INDEPENDENT is what drives us in doing some crazy shit. Dennis and Steve Lake from Sector 9 saying whats up


Will from Dragon knows


Kids go crazy for Shepard from Obey -as they should


After the hoopla on stage, the fun really begins as we get to hang out with all the true hero’s in the game-the shop kids! This dude was telling us we need to make 3x jkts. Ok!


Ben Hundo and BD up to no good


If you’ve seen our annual B/W Holiday gigs we throw, you know we try to keep it fun, but Zumiez takes it to next level with baby white tiger?


Weezy guest appearances


And LA’s finest, Skrillex absolutely killin' it


Sensory overload - - I’m calling it. Thanks for the good times. Remember to support your shop kid and eat Bacon and Pineapple pizza. Good night.

Show Time
January 13, 2012

Yes I’m late, but here’s a little recap of what Aaron and Seth have once again done to the tradeshow world. I don’t think I could have said it better, so I won’t say much at all


It kinda went something like this, but not really. LBC represent (circa ASR in the 80’s but even better)


The reigning champs


Hustle and Bustle


Large and in Charge


20 years of doin it


Set up, take down, on to the next one

Put it on ice
January 12, 2012 

Someone likes me


Take your pick


Parisian graf head, Andre infiltrated the world ala Belvedere


Ready and willing


A flight to remember-- Next time try your vodka at 5 degrees. I guarantee it’s a whole new experience

January 11, 2012 

I haven’t really heard of the term “Inventor-preneur,” until recently. I guess the idea of being an “Inventor” x “Entrepreneur” makes sense, but what’s more important is the fact that there’s only a few people who can do both of it well. Long ago when I stumbled across starting my own biz 686 in the early 90’s, I met a young dude named Kevin Royes, through my friend, Mike Maceda who ran Plain Sane accessories. Kevin also started his own accessory company, but focused on tools and leashes-It was called Bakoda Design Logic. Bakoda hailed from Western Canada, was one of the first niche companies in Action Sports, which really dominated the market with a full team and marketing plan. Towards the late 90’s Kevin wanted to relinquish the back-end operations and sold his business to Northwave. In hindsight it was a great move, as snowboarding hit the skids and allowed Kevin to take the next steps in his life. Fast forward many chapters later, Kevin hasn’t stopped tinkering with things and is the chief Inventor-preneur at Kelvin Tools. Hey Kevin! How’s it going, long time, man (Excuse the not so great iphone photos)


Kelvin is based upon the purpose to "simplify your life". He’s using tools as the format to do this and his first invention is the Kelvin 23.


Like I said earlier, everything has a story and Kevin’s definitely worth a lot. See the story If you think starting your own business is easy, think again. It's one thing to come up with a cool idea, it's an entirely different thing when it comes to running it. If you add financing and operations, that’s a completely different story. Kevin approached this a little different and somehow landed on a Reality Show in Canada called the Dragons Den (You know, the Sharks Tank here in the states). When you open the neatly designed box, The Kelvin 23 is one tight package.


Take it out and its full of goodies. Outside the 686 tool-belt , you’ll never need any other tool except this.


The Best
January 10, 2012 

What does a 2 hour drive, currently the best snow in the country, sleds, vodka and a bunch of cool people have to do with it all? Whistler and Blackcomb does, damit!


I’ve been all over the globe and when it comes to the best on mountain terrain (trees, back-country, vertical, groomers, heli), world class shops, bars, restaurants, accommodations, local heads and all around good peeps, Whistler tops the bill. If you haven’t been here, let me try and piece things together as best as I can. Nothing like my own shred mobile, care of Canadian snowmobiles to get me to where I need to go. Look into my eyes and follow me now… What do you think?


Mountain weather changes on a dime-Respect the respect


I see the light


I see me


Lift lines in general are a walking fashion show (or in So Cal, a Circus depending where you go). What’s that dude wearing, why is she sagging that much, look at his crappy sticker job, skittle thug vs hesh etc etc. I’m stoked to see heads rollin’ in my gear, but its even more fascinating when they use it in their own ways. For example, this grom is kitted in our Smarty and Manual jkt and pants head to toe, but instead of using the luggage tag for his bags, he uses it for a lift pass. Not that bad at all, as I’ve seen people tuck their pant gaiters into socks while leaving the hang tags on the garment.


West-side is the best side


Well Hello there






Did I mention that Whistler/Blackcomb village is world-class?


Big ups to marketing maven, Chris and the entire Whistler/Blackcomb family for making things happen

January 9, 2012 

I’m back! Sorry for the extended intermission of mash ups, but I’ve been a tad busy since the holidays. For some, it’s a time to eat the things you’re not supposed to as well as hang with the family. However for me it was trying to catch up with all the crap I’ve fallen behind with. After it was said and done with, I did get a chance to get out of Dodge and create some ruckus. Destination-BC, Canada. I typically like to mash things up in real time, but since I’m a little behind (again), pls excuse the slight Rewind. First stop is Vancouver. Of all the cool places in Van, I’m drawn to Gastown.


Besides the great places to shop, eat and mingle with the cool kids, I like it because it has an uncanny raw vibe. Speaking of cool vibes, I stopped by to see the boys at Endeavor Design (Airhole and Endeavor). They just moved into their new digs. I likey like


Ex-pro shred and Endeavor General Max Jenke working away on some top secret thingy things you just might see in Denver


Endeavors HQ is full of neat stuff I only wish I had. Example #1


Senior Photog at Large, Scott Serfas offering a batch of something incredible


Sign here, c/o Meggs


Since I was a good boy for Xmas, Santa Max let me see what really sets Endeavor apart from the rest.. Ok, I’ll follow you to where?


Enter if you dare


When you buy a product, in theory, you're purchasing a product that has a real story behind it. The story varies from brand to brand to people to people. However in my mind the more REAL you can make the user understand the reason for their purchase, the better. Max and company wanted to do just that; Snowboarding is much more than creating cool graphics that pop, its about the customized construction to fit your riding experiences. Endeavor’s Archetype lab demonstrates that everything has a purpose which was tested, destroyed and tested again before it reaches you. Instead of explaining the process, I’d rather show them. Here goes








Safety first


If you look closely, you just might find where this piece of expensive machinery came from. I’m not supposed to show you so please don’t look too hard.


On the other side of the lab lies Scott's home away from home. Nice set up huh


Just some of the covers Scott is responsible for


Can someone please bring Blunt back


All in all, it’s great to see how a few whacky ideas combined with a lot of creative minds, passionate pursuits and sweat labor can do these days. And you guys are doing it! Congrats fellas, and see you on the other side.

Hello 2012
January 4, 2012 

Stay tuned


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