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Mike's Mash | August 2012

August 1, 2012

Mike's Mash Up
Michael Akira West is the Owner and Creative Director of 686 Technical Apparel and MATIX Clothing. The following are some of his experiences inside and out of the industry across the globe. *Add Comments at Bottom of Page!

Neither here nor there
August 31, 2012

Leave your bubble and go somewhere different

Legend: A Journey Through Iceland from Henry Jun Wah Lee on Vimeo.

Destination, Africa
August 29, 2012

Game time- I’m off to Africa to attempt to climb one of the famed seven summits and the tallest mountain in Africa, Mt Kilimanjaro.

It’s all for a good cause supporting the Challenged Athletes Foundation as it's my first time doing any type of fundraising.

If you’re interested and want to help - click HERE.

Transworld did a recent story and gives some background on why I’m doing this.

I’ll be hitting you with random mashes along the next few weeks, mixing it in with my journey to nearly 20,000 feet above sea level.

Believe it or not, I finally joined INSTAGRAM - if you wanna see it in real time, follow me @ michaelakirawest.

Love and Peace.

The Specialists
August 27, 2012

Guess where I just landed?

I’ll give you a hint.

This is parked in the front of the building.


I took a day trip to see my friend who runs the apparel division at Specialized.

No other bicycle company in the world is like Specialized.

You don’t even have to ride a bike to appreciate what they’ve done over the past four decades on the premium end of cycling and mountain biking.

It all started in 1974 with this little bus that could.

Founder and CEO, Mike Sinyard sold this exact bus for $1,500 (and later bought it back) to help pay for a bike tour in Europe.

From there he imported Cinelli stems to sell in the states.

The rest is history.

My favorite.

Throwbacks of throwbacks.

Ole School.

Specialized for Palmer.

The granddaddy, S-Works.

If you own a water bottle, chances are that Specialized made it.

Yes, there is such thing as someone doing it better than the swoosh.

Here, here.

The parking lot here is packed with heads that live it.

Crowded house.

The sales team wanted to emulate a real retail environment so they just built one inside the warehouse.

The creative director of Specialized is Robert Egger.

Besides Mike, Robert is the mad scientist around here. Wanna see why? Guess who this is an ode to.

Ye haw.


Tailgate what?


Big ups to Pete and the Specialized team.

August 24, 2012

I like the juxtaposition of CLEAN design that’s TECHNICAL.

It’s what 686 has been doing for the last twenty years.

Belgium designer, Kris Van Assche is a personal favorite of mine as his attention to detail and modern functional take is what I’m drawn to.

Recently, he teamed up with American pack purveyor, Eastpack to produce Eastpack by Kris Van Assche.

Yeah I know, what’s up with the skateboard.

Look past this prop and check out the nice bag.

Fashion vs Function.

Throwback Thursday’s
August 23, 2012

We’re about to start shipping 686 goods for this upcoming winter season.

It's about this time, we also start to get random submissions in of all sorts of goodies from fans.

From misc letters, questions on product, to sticker requests to where can I find such and such, to obscure things like “when is it going to snow?” Our trusty team of 686-ers try and answer them all.

It also reminds me of how creative our fans are. One of the contests that sticks in my head is the “Interpret the Icon” contest.

Fans from around the way sent random photos of how creative they could make the 686 icon, theirs.

Check out a few of my favorites (no, they were not photo shopped).

Mr. Doug Fir
August 22, 2012

I’m a tinkerer for life.

I like to touch, feel, construct, deconstruct and do it all over again.

I like the way how different materials can react to different climates and applications.

Since I’m neck deep in constructing our new headquarters, all this is more front and center than it ever has been.

One type of wood that’s been my trusty ally is Douglass Fir.

This evergreen tree is the most readily available locally where you can pick it up from any lumber place from Home Depot to Contractors’ Warehouse.

Most contractors solely use Doug Fir for framing and sub flooring.

It's cheap and readily available.

Others are looking past this and using the natural wood grain look as finishes.

One example is a café called Zmianatematu in the city of Lodz, Poland.

Working with a small budget, they enlisted the Polish architect firm, xm3 to make a space that would encompass art exhibits and other happenings after lunch and dinner has passed.

Layer upon layer, the Doug Fir boards were C & C into simple open curved ribbed pockets.

I like how a simple shape can move and flow into something else.

Efficient and effective.

Carry the theme through out.

LA meets Hamburg
August 21, 2012


What does Los Angeles have to do with Hamburg, Germany?

Not much unless you bring together two respected EDM producers, Skrillex from LA and Alex Ridha of Boyz Noize from Germany.

A mix of dubstep/house/techno, they just released a trailer to their Next Order called Dogblood.

Our Joint
August 20, 2012

When our office moved back to our LA roots last year, it took some time for everyone to get settled around the new hood.

Checking traffic times, finding who to car pool with and where to eat for lunch were at the top of the list.

To help make this transition a little less incumbent, I let all the departments have a lunch allowance to check out the local scene.

Each week, we divide everyone up by groups (the group changes each week) and have them pick a local joint.

One person from the group has to send a report back to everyone in the company showcasing their group’s lunch experience.

Besides mixing some of the clicks in the office, we’ve found some gems that are worthwhile to check out.

Since this is my hood, I’ve been coming to some of these places for years, but stoked that I could finally share it with my fam.

There’s too many to list, but one of the favs that our entire crew has been drawn to is “Eatalian.”

Yeah, the name is so-so, but the food and ambiance is off the chain. Its literally walking distance from our new headquarters and nestled in a nondescript warehouse.

I’m ready to eat.


I came here two years ago when it first opened. I either get two things, the Rosemary chicken salad or the Mushroom pizza.

I guess its pizza today.

Bam! The best thin crusted pizza this side on the left coast.

Hint - ask for the fresh arugula to top it off.

Save room for their homemade gelato, made fresh everyday.

August 17, 2012

Last week, Matix team rider, Daewon Song.

This week, living legend and one of my top 5 street skaters of all time, Mike V.

Part 1

Part 2.

August 16, 2012

Look what landed on my desk. A brown box with some sort of V “66” insignia.

Open, open and look what I see, something Black and very Lightweight indeed.


Vans was born in 1966. 66 = LXVI.

Get tomorrow, today.

The hood
August 15, 2012

Stopped by my friends pad, a collection of goodies await.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

It is, it is.

August 14, 2012

686 was founded twenty years ago.

Matix was founded fourteen years ago.

Both brands started from the ground up, from a rider perspective on what a snowboarder and skateboarder demands from an apparel company.

Everyone at the office takes pride in what we do, because we not only live it, but we’re also the customer.

I’m drawn to others who share this and in it for all the right reasons, regardless of what industry they're in.

A mutual friend of mine introduced me to “Ed.”

Ed’s the founder and visionary behind Ironclad gloves.

Hello Ed.

Like our story in the action sports world, Ed shared the same experience in the construction world.

Back in the late 90’s Ed quickly realized that there wasn’t anything made specifically for trade workers in the plumbing, demo, framing, masonry and construction fields.

From the ground up, Ed and his team designed, developed, tested, sold and marketed the best gloves in the working industry.

Game changer - the KONG.

Ed shows me the difference of what Grip and Protection really mean.

My style - Black on Black.

Support authentic - Support Ironclad.

HIKE this
August 13, 2012

18 days and counting until I embark to Tanzania, Africa to hike one of the famed seven summits, Mount Kilimanjaro.

It's all for the charity I’m involved in-- The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF).

Heads keep asking me how my training's going, I tell them “aight.”

Actually, the only training I’m doing is traveling too much for work.

I figured I better get my sorry ass ready and do something about it.

Recently, my homies and I made the 5 hour trek north to summit Mount Langley Sea level to 14,000 feet in a day, we’ll see…

Gotta get the gear ready - Tent, check.

Hiking boots, check.

Osprey x 686 pack, check.

Beacon Pheonix, check.

Jetboil, check.

Baby wipes, check.

12:24am - Let's do this.

How convenient, my friends show me which way is up.

This is the first time I’ve taken off on a hike at night.

This is what it looked like 4 hours in.

A little while later… One of the coolest things I’ve seen.

I consider myself a fit person.

I’m active, in good health, eat well, etc.

I’ve been on snow excursions across the globe and use to run races back in the day.

I’ve never had a problem with altitude, until today.

I started to get mad headaches, and then became nauseous, starting puking, followed by diarrhea and then my hands and feet became very cold and numb.

This lasted for about an hour as I couldn’t keep anything in my system.

Getting AMS was crazy to me because I felt fine only a few hours ago.

It finally passed and we moved on, however was a reality check that anything can happen.

Got a long way to go, next up, the Switchbacks.

Looking over the shoulder.

Feels like I’m on another planet.

New Army Pass.

Over the hill and through the drops.


The Most Influential
August 10, 2012

TW Skate recently posted a series of the Most Influential Skaters of all time.

Personally hailing from the 80’s skate culture, this is right up my alley.

Too many good ones to check out...

Matix legend, Daewon Song, was chosen as one of them - I couldn’t agree more.

See Dae part one.

And, part two.

Nike x Levis x Skateboarding
August 9, 2012

If there’s two things that make up my DNA from the past, it's skateboarding and the love for denim products.

The good folks at Levis sent me a little something-something in the mail.

What could this be?

Step One-take out from box.

Step Two-open up on all four sides.


If you didn’t know, Nike and Levis decided to get in bed to produce a product dedicated to skateboarding.

1873 and 1972 never looked so good.


Introducing the 511 skateboarding denim jean.

Just my size.

I love the details of the literature.


Cone Mills in the house.

Great minds.

Work (still) in Progress - Drywall
August 8, 2012

We’re getting closer by the week to move into our new global headquarters in LA.

Next step after insulation - Drywall.

Mud-tape-sand (repeat).

The marketing and selling corral.

The front entrance to the glass display and living green plant wall.

Dirty dirty.

Yes, we’re Open
August 7, 2012

You wouldn’t know from the mash ups, but I try and avoid crowds as much as possible.

I don’t think it's working, as I checked out the US Open of Surfing this past weekend.

Two words--Sensory Overload.

Main Street Madness.

Lines to get into lines.

Everyone’s trying to get someone’s attention.


Bunny rabbits x skateboards x bikini girl.

“X” marks the spot.



One or the other.

In midst of all of this, we had rider signings at both Jacks and HSS.

Daewon, Mike Anderson, Marc Johnson and Turkey making things happen.

Dae, can I take a photo of you, please.

With all the Main street madness, I think people forget there’s a surf contest going on.

I must say that the Nike-Hurley-Converse camps keep stepping up their game.

Coastal Carnage.


The regulators.

Sorry, not much of a swell.

But just imagine, it looked like this.

Back to back
August 6, 2012

The Agenda NYC and LBC trade shows recently just wrapped.

This time around, it was for our newly acquired brand, MATIX for the upcoming Spring 13 season.

Traveling, setting up, going out, high fives, showings, orders, deadlines and everything else in the middle.

I’ll spare you the details and show you a brief summary.

Agenda NYC, Hot, Humid, Stacked and all that Jazz.

The new location in Soho worked well.

Come inside.

The Agenda NY show was surprisingly busy and according to Agenda boss man, Aaron Levant, it was the most visited East Coast show over Project and Capsule.

Our east agents were bumped back to back for showings.

Coming soon, Jon Contino for Matix made in USA.

Over on the Left Coast, Agenda LBC was full in effect this past weekend.

The daddy of em all, the show was sold out and took up the entire Long Beach convention center.

Our Matix presentation was also 4 x as big.

Bring it back.

Something’s comin' for Spring 13.

My joint, Gripper Twill Slim Straight.

Speaking about joints, our homies at HUF down at the Berrics came in hot with their Dirt Bag Crew Grocery themed booth.

You pick.

While I pick my favorite booth at the show by Brothers Marshall from Malibu.

Happy times.