Back to News

Mike's Mash | May 2012

May 1, 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!

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


Jiggle wiggle


Mini balls


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…

Traffic Sucks
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


Goretex authorized!


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

Visual Effects
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




Everything is BIGGER In TEXAS
May 15, 2012


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…


Andy Warhol’s Fame and Misfortune was exhibiting at the Mcnay


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


Drop bombs

May 14, 2012 






The Hook
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.


This little thing cost $50 and can filter contaminated water into safe drinking water. $50 can save hundreds of people’s lives. Wanna learn more? Check out Jon Rose’s eye opening endeavor


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


They did some limited bikes last year with my friend, Eric who runs LDG. If you’re in the neighborhood, drop by and give Eric a high five


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.

Simpsons 500 from nerdx on Vimeo.

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 . . .

Mysterious Happenings
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.

View Previous Post & Comments:
April 2012

March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011

March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010: Part 1
May 2010: Part 2
April 2010: Part 1
April 2010: Part 2
March 2010: Part 1
March 2010: Part 2
February 2010