Mike's Mash | May 2012
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!
You are what you EAT
June 1, 2012
Do you remember when your mom said “you are what you eat.” Maybe it’s just me, but for some reason my stomach takes a turn when I’m in Asia in good and bad ways. Let me take you for a ride starting off with some tasty little shrimp things
This is what lunch looks like
Pick your meal
Get me outta here
Vietnamese cuisine is world class. I like me some of this
And this! (Banh khot)
And this! (Cha gio)
And…? (Che ba mau)
I spoke to soon
I think this is probably the BIGGEST table I’ve ever sat down to eat
I think I’ve entered the twilight zone
What up Blood
Indiana Jones would be proud
Where am I heading?
Just what I’m looking for
Beers, Nuts and little Fishes. What a match!
Here little doggy…
May 31, 2012
A few days later, we’re off again. Where to next?
I’ll give you a few ideas. Traffic really sucks
Scooters are the majority
Family of 4, no problem!
Accidents, no problem
Good morning Vietnam
I know it’s weird, but after you travel as much as I do, silly things remind you of where you are
In Vietnam, we head to our two exclusive factories in Saigon and Da Nang. Although its hot here, I’m into the vibe in Vietnam over China. What I mean is that it’s much more tropical, foods better, people are pretty cool. The downside in mfg is that they are much slower in productivity than China. Having the factory next to the beach will do it every time. Back in the office, the QC process starts again.
The team scours through our Bill of Materials (BOM’s)
Compares it to the real thing
I think our Kids jkts have a fitting issue
Fit em and check em
Let’s go check out the factory floor starting with Cutting
Here’s a panel of our upcoming sold out Axxe Jackets
Each production line has a sample of the jacket they're producing
Guess what’s coming in Fall 2012?
Coming soon to a stockist near you
Good night Vietnam
Quality & Control
May 30, 2012
5:15am pick up from the hotel. 5:45am drop off Taipei International. Take off and land in Xiamen, China 10:10am. Lost luggage?
Thank god for
Quick lunch before we hit the factory floor and they set this on my table? The King of China is going to make me fall asleep
Back at the factory, we start to get into the long process of making sure our products are made according to our specs. The 686 Q & C process is something we take deep pride in. We bring a team of people from the states in addition to our Taiwan crew and also hire a third party to supervise the factories in Asia. For the past 20 seasons I’ve managed to make it here as well. It’s an investment, it takes time, its grueling, it’s exhausting and it’s all worth it. We start off with fittings and an overview of the garments.
If we find a mistake, we document it and they pull the entire style offline for full inspection
You can only do so much in the factory office. I like to get on the factory floor and really see where it goes down. For ie, 686 garment seams have waterproof taped seams to insure you keep dry
We also test the water column pressure of each seam shown here
My team is very organized and detailed in their agenda. I’m the elephant in the room that likes to pull random things and see if anything has fallen through the cracks. The devils are in the details. We like to make it unique in the smallest areas. For ie, instead of sewing a 1” Velcro on the wrist cuff, we make them cut an inset window of fabric in three separate angular shaped windows to house the Velcro
Same thing with the inset waterproof zipper
Invisible seams for minimal side board chaffing and an embroidery to match the ongoing theme
Each garment is passed through a metal detector to check for broken needles
Big Brother is watching you
During our travels in China, I wander off with a small group to check out other factories in our lineup. Outerwear is our core, but interestingly enough, 686 made our name through producing quality leather belts such as our world famous TOOL BELT
We import our leather from South America, USA and Europe. Here’s a full hide
Parts of the process
Guess who else makes quality leather belts here
Over and Away
10 minutes to LAX, 2 hours waiting for my red eye flight, 16 hours over and away, 15 minutes through customs, 20 minutes waiting for bags, 35 minutes to the office and this is the first thing I see?
I’m here with the 686 production and development teams for our annual Asia trip. Our first stop for the next 24 hours is Taipei, Taiwan to check up with our central office to make sure things are in order. We have incredible people behind this extensive Production and Development process. I’m mostly here to give high fives, kiss babies and support the people behind the people. Lots of meetings, paperwork, approvals, fire marshaling and just about everything else in between. This is pretty much how the next 12 hours look like
This is what no sleep means for me. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
May 25, 2012
I’m a pretty passionate dude, so whenever I get into a conversation, I like to do it in person. Good ole face to face interaction is the best way to check up on what’s happening. I recently caught up with my friend, Janelle at this Swiss joint next to LAX, of all places. Chalet Edelwhat?
They make Turkey Sandwiches in Switzerland?
At least the mustard is authentic
The real reason I’m here is to see what Janelle’s been up to. Its been a few years since we hung out. Say hello to J (left) and her cuz, Sierra (right)
Sierra’s in town for a week for some R & R. During the winter, she’s a big pro mountain skier. On the off season she models for all the top agencies in the world. Wanna see? Here’s a gig she recently did
I met Janelle a while ago through our 686 previous marketing director, Brice. Back then she was just scrapping by doing post production work. She then graduated to editing music videos which led to television and soon after that, big budget movies. I guess in the entertainment biz, you go with the flow, but you also have to hustle and put up with a lot of BS. Being a woman in the biz, you multiply that by 10. Last month, I went to Coachella and the highlight of the entire festival was the Dre/Snoop/50/Eminem headliner. But the shit that really took it over the top was when Tupac showed up, literally!
Well, guess who was responsible for all of this? Mrs. J was. As soon as this show went live, the entire universe was watching and TALKING, and TALKING and TALKING. She and her teammates at Digital Domain did something that no one has done before. I can’t tell you the secrets of how it was done, but lets say it’s a mix of the “old” and “new.” Dr. Dre and director extraordinaire, Philip Atwell call her their new girl. Tupac also says what up. Congrats J.
May 23, 2012
Reversal of Fortune
May 21, 2012
No it’s not the 90’s movie starring Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons. I’m talking about the many takes graphic designers have “flipped” iconic logos. I know you’ve seen countless versions of them before, but its still entertaining how each designer does it a little different. Graham Smith flips it his way.
Check out Vimeotube
Audi vs BMW vs Canon vs Nikon
Ferrari vs Ford vs Pizza Hut vs Dominos
Yes X No
May 18, 2012
As shown by Scott Schumann
Last day in San Antonio for biz meetings. I decided to get lost for a few moments in King Williams
Since a long time ago
A little fixer upper for sale
Can be yours for the special price of…
Trust me, it was good
How about some other “goodness”
You are what you
My whip for the day
None at all
Spread the love
May 10, 2012
This past week, I checked in with 686 faction member, Elliott Neese, who mans the boat named Ramblin’ Rose on Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch.” In case you didn’t know, Deadliest Catch is in its eight season and just finished its 100th episode to over 6 million viewers, making it the #1 non-sports prime-time cable telecast. All that aside, Elliott is a one of a kind dude. Check him out running our outline T and badge hat.
From SEA to shining SEA
May 9, 2012
The earth’s surface is covered by 70.9% water. Of this, 96.5% of the water is salt, 1.7% is from the ground, 1.7% from glaciers and the rest is from air, vapor or precipitation. Safe drinking water is essential for the survival of life forms on earth. Over one billion people lack safe drinking water and almost 3 billion lack sanitation of clean water.
I made my way from LA past the orange curtain and visited my friend Bob at Hurley for lunch. Of the many things we rapped about, was the need for clean drinking water, the current state of the industry and how Hurley’s roots are forever engrained from the Sea. Speaking about the sea, how about some sushi for lunch
My favorite, Albacore!
I think it's also Bob’s as well
After lunch, he showed me around their “campus.” Their global HQ is broken down into a series of department building pods with each area having their own personality. Take for example, the receptionist building is also their art gallery SPACE.
Guess who’s currently showing
Do you notice the constant theme at the campus?
CR Stecyk III has done more for skateboarding, photography and the art community than anyone I know
The creative and design building is located at the back of the campus, led by Bob’s son, Ryan. Take it from me, the place is pretty insane. Sorry I can only show you a little preview
Well, maybe a little more
Did I mention they also have a building dedicated to music? A custom stage
A custom built recording studio (which NOFX just dropped by earlier this week)
Lots of cred to prove it
Go in the water. It's free and fun
Fun boards = fun times
All the buildings have limited access to them but I think Bob's office building is the most inspiring. I wish I could show you why (besides Bob's desk), but you’re gonna have to take my word that Bob's passion to Inspire the Youth, constantly Innovate, always Conserve, support Art, Music, and the Sea is a force to be reckoned with. Inspire the next generation. Pass it on…
Fight for your right
May 8, 2012
May 4, 2012
Last year when the Simpson showcased their 500th episode, it left some heads disappointed after all the hype. From an outsider looking in, I personally thought they killed it. The mash up intro, itself was over the top.
Over 23 years ago when the Simpson’s first debuted, skateboarding ruled my world. Anything that had to do with skating, I was into. It’s no coincidence that Bart and I had something in common- -I guess that’s why I found this on my desk.
Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaart, c/o: Mr. Phillips
Sorry- we’re out Crook’n
May 3, 2012
I was in the West Hollywood area today and decided to stop by and catch up with some old homies. The Kings of Fairfax x Sunset
D, Rob, Chris, BJ, E and the entire Crooks N Castles family are up to some high level sh*t, coming your way very soon. Do you see it in this photo?
I think E knows, but he isn’t telling y’all yet
I’ll give you a hint. It has something to do with masked men and $
Sorry, you’re gonna have to wait. Stay tuned . . .
May 2, 2012
A few weeks ago I paid a visit to my friend, Rob at SLVDR and now something mysteriously shows up on my desk. Rob’s trademarked trademark
Overlay is Gray
Who needs hangtags when you have a pouch for your shades
…And make sure you bet on SLVDR
May 1, 2012
Florence X Normandie
As a student going to South Central every day for school at USC, this is forever engraved in my mind. I must have passed by Florence and Normandie a few hundred times over my time there. This is where the LA RIOTS started twenty years ago. Close to 60 people lost their lives.
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May 2010: Part 1
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April 2010: Part 2
March 2010: Part 1
March 2010: Part 2