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Mike's Mash | April 2012

April 24, 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!

April 30, 2012
I’m in Miami B!t*h

Miami is place I don’t come too often. Besides the few times back in the day for Winter Music Conference, it’s not on my top places to check out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the sun and sea, but this place isn’t for me. Well, it is a nice day isn’t it?


Maybe you can guess why I’m here for only 24 hours


It has something to do with a Legendary History


Superior Workmanship


Made In


Later in the night, I ran into someone that might have an idea what I’m talking about


Here’s looking at you kid

The Mad Ones: Some Super 8
April 26, 2012 

Another good one coming in hot from Liam Gallagher

The Mad Ones: Some Super 8 from Liam Gallagher on Vimeo.

The Volt
April 25, 2012

The 90’s proved to be the stomping grounds for a grip of brands. 686 happened to be one of them with about 300+ other snow specific companies. Towards the turn of the millennium, it dropped to less than a few dozen.

Within the eye-wear industry, it was much more concentrated with Oakley being the clear leader. With most industries, when things became stale, it provided opportunities to create something new and special. Back in the 90’s, Arnette were the ones that broke the Oakley mold and turned things upside down. I remember their Raven model and how forward it was at the time. Working at Bear Mountain I also remember their very first goggle that transcended all lines. To me, it was a breakthrough in the marketplace. A few years later, one of the world’s largest optics company at the time, Bausch & Lomb acquires Arnette and things suddenly started changing. However, it doesn't stop there, Bausch & Lomb is then acquired by Italian mega corp, Luxottica and finally things start to unwind.

A new generation is about to start in the optics industry as VZ (Von Zipper) and Electric are formed. (Dragon already broke off from the Oakley mold in the early 90’s led by my friend, Will Howard.) VZ forms a partnership with Billabong, but Electric decides to do their own thing. Led by the trio from San Clemente: creative mastermind, Kip Arnette, marketing maven, Mike Carter and all around operational wizard, Bruce “the Bird” Beach. They gather a strong team of heads and move forward , their way. The year was 2000 and man did they have a crazy ride ahead of them. A lot of incredible things happened along the way, including being acquired by the Stone in 2008, which was then acquired by Luxury conglomerate, PPR last year. (I know this may seem confusing to someone reading this for the first time, but the point is that the ride is just beginning). Electric has blazed their own path, which in the end was to have fun and create something special. All defined by their logo, the VOLT.


On my way back from meetings in San Diego, I stopped by to have lunch with Bird at Electric. They just moved into their new offices down the street from their original. Take a quick look, all open and all custom build outs


Photo incentives


Bird’s office is filled with some memorable images. I remember this one


The ones and only, Donny, Cartz, Kip and the Birdman


The Volt is huge supporter of Movember and so should you


Look what I saw. . . (Possibly a boxing match at Lights Out next year?)


Phase 1 of 3 of the new offices are completed. Phase 2 is next


If you didn’t know, Electric is now part of the PPR family of brands. If you don’t know PPR, I think you might know a few of these other ones


Bird just got back from a leadership conference from PPR. Don’t you like his dress code in a sea of suits


The future is untold and the boys from San Clemente have a lot of great things coming your way - -Go get em fellas!

April 24, 2012

More Spring droppings coming your way.



Sante Fe





April 23, 2012
Keep on trekking

Just when I thought Coachella was in my rear view, I’m back

Well not really. . . I didn’t make it to Indio, but I did make it to Palm Springs

WHY? Cuz of this little tram to another world. Don’t look down

Can you believe its over 100 degrees at the base and at the top it’s in the mid 50’s, with all this snow on the ground?

My homie, Shawn tells us where we’re at

I think I’m confusing myself. Long Valley 3 miles or 1.7?

Not prepared

Lions, Tigers and Bears oh my

There’s a reason why I’m here and it has to do with getting my body ready to climb the highest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro. I’ve never done anything remotely like this so I guess these practice runs are a good thing. Hiking poles, check

Snow shoes, check

Mr. Snowman, check

April 18, 2012
Mike’s Top 6

Alright, this is the last Coachella mashup for 2012. My top 6 performances:

#1 - M83

#2 - Dre x Snoop x Tupac

#3 - The Rapture

#4 - Santigold


#6 - Frank Ocean x Tyler

April 17, 2012
Day and Night

Each year when I come to Coachella Valley Music Festival, every experience is different. 2012 to me was no exception as I managed to get through it with limited causalities to my body. In fact, I actually slept a few of the nights. The only issue is that I had such a good time that I forgot to document my experiences. Oh well, I’m sure by this time you’ve either heard or seen it all. So instead of boring you, I’ll show you some limited snippets of the Day and Night of what happened in the Valley they call Coachella. Damn I forgot to paint my car this year


If you come to the festival, riding a bike is probably one of the most smartest things you can do


I think I found my cruiser for next year


Only the brave: Tent City


Coming to Coachella is only part of the experience. The side parties are where it’s at. Unfortunately, this is the only thing I remember from the side gigs- -pool parties with sharks, sorry


I’m screwed


Coachella brings in massive corporate sponsors across the globe. Buy, buy buy… On the flip side I ran into my friend, Shane from Salt Lake City at the KROQ house. I think Shane’s going to run for president one day. For now, he’s into his new startup called Beacon. What you got there Shane?


Watch out Jambox


Off to more happenings: Toby reminds me of something something


DAY- A view to remember Flashing lights


NIGHT-Until next year

April 16, 2012

One Long Weekend

Yes I did

April 13, 2012
The # Of the Beast

April 12, 2012
Give Back

About 20 years ago, I was this inexperienced student attending the University of Southern California. On the weekends, I drove 3 hrs away and worked at
Bear. The idea of 686 started with a passion to do something different and fun. The seed was planted from one of my professors at USC telling me to take a chance while I was young. The rest was history. Ever since then, I’ve tried to set an example that anything is possible with the right mindset, people and passion. Coming back to USC to rap out with the kids is one example of doing this. Tommy looks the same as he did 20 years ago

Some things stay the same

While others don’t

On my way to Taper Hall


to the Front

Give back your way (even though you looked goofy in those photos)


April 11, 2012
Support Independents

As most of you know, I’m a huge supporter of people doing it on their own. One prime example is Rob Meyers. I’ve known Rob for quite some time. From his early days at Square One to his long tenure at Four Star/Program to the Bond venture and somewhere between Quik and DC, his true passion lies within
SLVDR. What are you thinking about next?

The board

Wanna play?

Decisions, decisions

Out now

Get yours

I got mine

Support the ones that support you

April 10, 2012
Heli Boyz

Around December, I received an email from my good friend, Chad at
Malakye about a heli trip that he was organizing with Karl at IS eyewear, the heads at Snowboard Canada, Transworld, Billabong, Stepchild, NRI and Endeavor/Airhole. After a bunch of lame ass excuses from me that I couldn’t go, I finally committed and 4 months later I’m finally here! I’ve been to quite a few heli expeditions over my lifetime, but this one was definitely a different experience. I’ll show you why shortly. For now, its time to make sure everything is safe and sound. It all starts with the safety guide showing us how the heli works in case of an emergency

Common sense or plain stupidity?

Mandatory goods. The piep

It’s been a dangerous year for avalanches. Interior BC, which is where I’m at, has been the hardest hit with fatalities. Just a few weeks ago, the last heli trip I took in Snow water, lost two people. This time around I’m actually thinking of wearing a helmet. However for now I brought some extra reinforcements like this Airbag backpack courtesy from Pete at NRI

Everyone’s hyped and geared up to get going including Mr. Party Snake

Brace yourself, here it comes!

Let’s go over there

The 686 posse’s all ready

Did I mention we have a posse?

I think Chad’s ready to go

I’m also more than ready


Anytime you come into the wild, it's game on. The mountains can be the most beautiful or scariest things you’ve ever seen. Where I’m at, there are no lift lines, groom runs or man-made trails. As experienced as I am, anything can happen and I never discount the fact that it can happen to me or my homies. Check it for yourself.







 Something you don’t want to be next to

In between the best sessions of my life, we had some downtime. Ready set





Until next time

Love and Peace

April 9, 2012
Oh Canada

I’m somewhere between HERE

Flying long haired masked men

and somewhere over THERE

April 5, 2012

Spring’s here and so are our goods. Check a peek at some of our tops available at a stockist near you. OR come here and get the entire collection The lightweight Encore Jacket

Blade Knit hoody

Vector Knit T


The Knit top


The Scale Woven Short Sleeve

April 4, 2012
Today was a good day from LA

April 2, 2012

Another episode of Liam Gallagher's, "The Mad Ones" just dropped this past week. This time it's chronicles the 686 faction team across the Alps of Austria. Come along for the ride with the whole 686 familia-Patrick McCarthy, Forest Bailey, Ryan Paul, Atsushi Hasegawa, Marco Fleichtner, Sebi Geiger and Ben Thomas-Javid  

The Mad Ones: European Vacation from Liam Gallagher on Vimeo.

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