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Mike's Mash | May 2013

May 1, 2013

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!

Opening Ceremony-TKYO
May 31, 2013

About 10 years ago while in New York, I stumbled across this one small store named Opening Ceremony. I vividly recall this one girl named Carol helping me out. It was a cool and quirky spot and not over commercialized. Low and behold I was being helped by one of OC’s founders, Carol Lim. Today OC is on the forefront of redefining fashion in their unique manner. I’m about to head to Asia and stoked to see that they reopened the Tokyo flagship in Harajaku’s Omotesando Hills.

Carol and Umberto like to play with their merchandise.

Up and over.

Carol and Umberto are also the creative directors of Kenzo - Can you tell?

May 29, 2013

The creative folks at Desillusion do some great work. Check out the latest teaser on Koston, coming soon.

THIS IS KOSTON , The teaser. from Desillusion Magazine on Vimeo.

A better way
May 28, 2013

Around the world there are 780 million people still without proper access to clean water. When it comes to cooking food, there are over 3 billion (Yes, billion) that cook meal over an open fire. That’s nearly 10 times larger than the entire US population!

Whenever you cook over an open flame, there are a range of hazards such as toxic carbon dioxide, the search for wood and deep ecological circumstances. Swedish design firm, Claesson Rune designed a functional stove that not only looks great, but works even better.

Check out their story and recent launch in Kenya (photos from Claesson Rune).

Designing the Baker Cookstove by Claesson Koivisto Rune from Dezeen on Vimeo.

Venice 1986
May 24, 2013

There are things that I will NEVER forget. The day I started my business in 1992 from school, the time I met my girl in 2001 and skateboarding Venice beach in 1986.

When it came to the guardian and king of Venice, Jessie “the Mess” Martinez was the man. The gang infested area from V-13 to the Shoreline Crips ruled the hood. The Mess was there to protect skateboarding and whoever got in front of his way.

I was there when Thrasher mag took this photo of Jessie hitting the launch ramp. Respect.

May 22, 2013

In my mind, the early 90’s was the revolution of freestyle snowboarding. In skateboarding, the mid 80’s is where it all happened in skateboarding. From about 1985-88, anything I did revolved around skateboarding. We had a tight crew of Southbay kids sessioning Hermosa Pier after High School and then rolled over to Venice Beach on the weekends.

The progression of street skating was evolving in front of our eyes. Steve Rocco was based in Hermosa and during that time, legends like Gonz, Natas, Vallely, Lee, Klein were all rolling in the local hood. When we made it to Venice Beach on Saturdays, the scene completely changed. V land was hardcore and you wouldn’t want to be caught there after sunset. Since there was no internet, everything had to be experienced first-hand. This is where I discovered one of my all-time favorite street skaters, Eric Dressen.

Dressen’s style was solid and tough. His calm demeanor let his skating do the talking. During the time, he switched to Dogtown and I still remember getting his board at Rip City Skates because this dude was on it. Vice’s Epicly Later’d series recently did a joint on Dressen which can’t be missed.

If you care anything about where street skating, you need to watch this.

Surf Summit
May 20, 2013

Last month I was organizing leaders in snowboarding to come together and address some of the ongoing issues we’re all facing. A few weeks ago, I hit IASC’s skateboard conference and now I’m down across the border for SIMA’s Surf Summit 16 in Cabo. I’m definitely not the type of dude that enjoys sitting in a room looking at powerpoint presentations, but it's interesting to understand that all of us are speaking about similar issues which revolves mainly around participation.

When it comes to snow, the barriers to entry are mainly cost, seasonality, proximity to resorts, and the lack of proper instruction. Skateboarding is much different as longboarding and cruising has made it accessible to every college student and novice around the globe. In surfing, all you need is a board, good waves and good vibes.

Ok, I think I got the first part correct.

Definitely have the second one on lock. Shipwrecks in effect.

Our trusty attorney, G-dub in his Matix Meander T shirt spreading the good vibes.

Over the years in Cabo, things have modernized quite a bit from large resorts to pricier meals to bigger and brighter mega clubs to paved roads (even in the east cape).

However no matter what happens, you know it's Mexico when you see cowboys rocking their horse in the back of their truck.

Going to a conference actually involves meetings and sitting in a formalized environment. SIMA’s exec director Sean Smith addressing the crowd.

Overall, there were some great presentations. My top two were ESPN’s Merril Hoge on how every challenge can be overcome by finding a way to conquer it and Google’s creative director, Mike Yapp on how brands can orchestrate and ambush and conquer the world. Listen and learn.

The thing about conferences in the action sports world is that most of the real business gets done after the meetings and outside into the evening. Most of the 200 plus crew of manufactures and retailers went “into town” and I don’t think that all 200 returned… Bruce (ex officio from Electric) and posse barely made it back.

Agenda’s Jim Shubin looks like he’s either getting choked out by a dude with a shiny top or getting a Mexican popper.

Christine (Agenda) and Eric (Tavik) in the house.

As the night went into overdrive, I was trying to do the duck and roll out the side door but ran into these locals. Viva la 686!

Muchas gracias senor Dunlap for riding dirty representing Matix in the Mexican landscape.

Print and Shoot
May 17, 2013

When we design products, most everything is done on a 2-dimensional CAD format. This means we print designs on paper from applications like Adobe Illustrator. If I had my way, the designs made on the computer screen would come out as full functional 3-dimensional garments. In actuality, this 3D printing process is used widely in developing footwear proto types.

3D printing is defined by producing three dimensional solid forms from a digital format (aka your computer). Soon, the common family will be able to print just about anything they think of including something that could kill.

Just recently, the first 3D printed gun was made by the folks in Texas and was successfully fired.

Check the plastic fun.

Toys are fun, aren’t they?

It's all in the trigger.

Skate LIFE
May 16, 2013

LIFE magazine just released their throwback on skateboarding with photos taken in 1965 in NYC. It all started with this cover shot of Patti McGee (photos by Bill Eppridge for Life).

Check the fun going down from yesteryear.

Skate or Die?

Oh snap.

Hall of Fame
May 15, 2013

One of the best in the biz.

Made in Italy
May 14, 2013

What do we have here?

I’m almost finished with construction on the new HQ. Too bad I didn’t have these earlier.

Vibram for the sole.

Made in Italy by Diemme for Vans. Big ups JB.

The Rock
May 13, 2013

In the summer of 1962, three prisoners escaped from the infamous Alcatraz prison on the SF bay. No one has ever escaped from the prison except for these three. To this date, no one knows if they perished or made it to the other side.

Ever since I saw the movie “Escape from Alcatraz” years ago, I’ve been fascinated by all things the ROCK.

Guess where I’m at today?

How about now.

I’ve landed. Where’s Sean Connery?

Regulation #5.

Breaking the law.

Back then.


Outside looking in.

½ star rating.

Inside looking out.

The Hole.

Who’s that I see?

Solitary confinement.

Check out the YARD where everything went down.

1.5 miles away, freedom was on the horizon-But too far away from anyone to ever see it.

Where are they now?


Nighty night, sleep tight.

Call to Action
May 10, 2013

I’ve been in the snowboard industry game as an independent owner and operator for 21 years and counting. Since my start as a young grom in the skateboard world and then moving to the shred side, it’s the smallest things that continually bring the STOKE.

Example #1

As a community, the “stoke” is what we all have in common and the reason we should be in it. Recently there has been some misleading information floating around mainstream media that “Snowboarding has lost its edge.”

It’s silly how assumptions can be made and easily transferred to non-endemic media who have little idea or first-hand information on what shredding is about. With the support of SIA, we organized a mini summit dedicated to the preservation and continued stoke for snowboarding. I was blessed to have the support from the leaders in the shred industry to take off their brand hats and come together, as a family in support for the next generation.

Check the recent story from our friends at Boardistan or read the official press release below.

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (May 3, 2013) — A committee of leaders from 18 snowboard brands and endemic media companies organized by SnowSports Industries America (SIA), the snow sports industry’s member-owned trade association, met this week to review the state of the snowboard category, the buy/sell cycle, snowboard product sales at specialty stores and snowboard participation.

Snowboard Committee members in attendance representing a cross-section of brands included Mike West of 686, Max Jenke of Endeavor Snowboards, Shawn Penrod of Ride, Mikey Leblanc of Holden, Bob Carlson of Arbor, Anthony Scaturro of Flow, Clark Gundlach of Quiksilver, Brad Steward of Bonfire, Scott Keating of Nike, Jared Bevens of Vans, Sasha Dietschi-Cooper of Burton, Dan McNamara of Mervin, Eric Crane of Electric Visual, Jeff Boliba of Burton, Dan Sullivan of Rome SDS, Blue Montgomery of CAPiTA Snowboarding, Chris Engelsman of Grind Media, Adam Cozens of TransWorld Media and Maxx Von Marbod of Nidecker USA.

“From company founders to CEO’s, it was an honor to have key players from the snowboard community come together to discuss some major issues within the industry,” said Mike West, founder of 686, chairman of the SIA Snowboard Committee and member of the SIA Board of Directors. “Our discussions have led to taking the next steps on increasing participation through retention and allocating our resources towards increasing healthier sales in retail. Our goal is to work ON snowboarding instead of working IN snowboarding.”

The meeting was a constructive opportunity to take a close look at the strengths and weaknesses of the category. “Snowboarders are not afraid of peaks or valleys. Navigating the terrain before us is what we do and we will take these lessons from the mountains to the boardroom as many times as it takes,” said Anthony Sacturro, CEO and president of Flow Sports. “With clear goals, honest cooperation/collaboration and an effective mechanism for change, we can get people stoked to ride and we can fix the internal issues to the mutual benefit all stakeholders.”

Those present reviewed SIA’s latest research about trends in snowboard visits over the past several seasons as well as participation trends by age, gender, region and core focus. Comparing both generational trends and alpine skier, snowboarder and crossover demographics also informed the conversation. With this research as context, the committee reviewed SIA retail and consumer marketing initiatives like and the Retailer to Consumer Marketing Guide designed to increase snow sports participation and sales.
The committee generated many ideas to consider moving forward, such as appointing an SIA snowboard liaison who would develop and execute industry-wide, snowboard-specific programs. It was also suggested that supplier and retailer support of regional snowboard events for families and urban consumers with diverse backgrounds would help get more people riding.

“The SIA Snowboard Committee is filled with talented and diverse people,” said Brad Steward, vice president of brands, action sports at Bonfire. “David Ingemie and the staff do an incredible job of showing the facts, providing us with the implications and keeping us focused on the retailers and riders that are so critical to keeping what’s cool about riding front and center in the meetings.”

Many expressed an optimistic outlook for the future. “We are seeing downward trends with visits, but I live in Lakefield, Vermont and watched a strong year at the resort level. The numbers that they’re going to gather are strong,” said Dan Sullivan, director of sales at Rome Snowboard Design Syndicate and member of the SIA board of directors.

The Snowboard Committee dispersed to address the issues at hand in their own regions and companies. “The three main topics addressed by the committee were bringing new snowboarders to the sport and increasing participation of current snowboarders, the industry buy/sell cycle and how we can make it more efficient for all involved, and increasing sales of snowboard product at retail,” said David Ingemie, SIA president. “The committee came up with a number of action items the SIA staff will review and organize to be addressed by several task forces made up from members of the committee. Stay tuned.”

The mission of SIA’s Snowboard Committee is to expand snowboarding as a sport and to discuss strategic issues, participation, distribution channels, snowboarding vitality and investment in trade shows. The committee regularly meets to discuss the state of the category. Other committee members not present at the recent meeting include: Chad Perrin of Nidecker USA, Andrew Marinners of Billabong, Tracey Canaday of Never Summer, Bob Gundram of C3, Josh Reid of Rome SDS, Will Howard of Dragon, Dutch Schultz of Volcom, Dennis Leedom of Bern Helmets, Greg Tomlinson of VonZipper, Michael Marxx of Spy Optic.

It’s official
May 9, 2013

Introducing the New Balance Numeric team. PJ, Arto, Levi and Tom. Welcome to the NB# fam. (filmed by Russell Houghten)

NB# Team Intro Video from New Balance Numeric on Vimeo.

Living Legend
May 8, 2013

As we gradually get our Westlife fortress down on lockdown, we’re stoked to have our family members come by and say what's up. Guess who’s in the neighborhood today.

Say hello to New Balance Numeric pro, king of the east and living legend, PJ Ladd.

We’re in the NB# design laboratory scheming some great things to come.


I don’t think there’s any other skateboarder who puts his goods through the ringer as much as PJ does. We’re all about wear testing, grinding and destroying.

Check the glimpse of the upcoming Stratford’s wear tested so we can make them better just for you.

Home I where the heart is.

Throwback Tuesday’s
May 7, 2013

Bringing it back - Dump 'em style with Mr. Forest Bailey.

DUMP EM OUT from DUMP EM on Vimeo.

Slow & Steady
May 6, 2013

Good things happen to those who wait. Great things happen to those who are Steady. This is the basis of Matix’s Summer 13 collection “Slow & Steady.”

Summer is all about getting lost in the day with friends, having fun and soaking in the shine of the sun. JJ Wessel’s signature collection, ‘The Shape of Things’ and Turkey Stopnik’s signature collection, ‘Deathcard Days’ both epitomize the idea of summer from different angles, making for a unique twist to the Matix line-up.

Our friends at Hypebeast and Rad Collector stopped by to say hello. Come take a ride with the Matix tribe in Venice, Cali and see what this all means

Da Boys.



Dae all Day.

Manderson mania.

Matix Mantra

Check the Summer Love.

Matix Summer '13 from Matix Clothing on Vimeo.

Meeting of the minds
May 3, 2013

In the 686 labs, we start design conceptualization up to 2 years ahead of time. Today we had some special guests from Italy finalizing details on something special coming up.

True collaborations are meant to be done together.

No, we’re not into Black Squares. Coming not soon.

Daft to the Punk
May 2, 2013

There are a few groups that have influenced me in a positive manner throughout the years and Daft Punk is definitely one of them. Take a quick journey with me to see some of my favs from the electronic French duo.

Around the world.

Da Funk (ala Spike Jonze).

One more time.

Random Access Memories.

Three Peaks
May 1, 2013

Made in England.


Three Peaks!

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