Mike's Mash | August 2013
Michael Akira West is the Owner and Creative Director of 686 Technical Apparel, MATIX Clothing and New Balance Numeric. The following are some of his experiences across the globe. *Add Comments at Bottom of Page!
August 30, 2013
For the first time in a long time, I’m taking the weekend off and took a puddle jumper to the jungles of Costa Rica. No, its not north side tourist haven CR, it’s the south side, off the grid, locals only, bordering Panama CR. How about this for a view?
Let me make my way down to the ocean.
My only form of transportation.
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Marcus Garvey. Make your own roots.
Keep it simple.
Yes I Am
August 29, 2013
Where is this thing taking me?
I’m not in Kansas anymore.
Planes, trains and automobiles...
Prepare to Launch
August 28, 2013
Only a few days till launch day of the new 686 Fall/Winter Collection.
August 27, 2013
Yes, I’m between here and there but that’s beside the fact. What I’m most stoked about is I get to try on my new pair of Freewaters Thermarest GPS sandals.
My friends, Martin and Eli had a vision about 5 years ago to bring forth the issues that most people do not have access to clean water. In fact over a billion people in the globe today are not able to drink sanitized water. What made their story different is that they decided to do something about it. Hence Freewaters footwear was born. Freewaters is a dedicated to providing clean water to those in need with every purchase of their product. Besides their incredible story, it's backed by equally compelling product. I’m putting the new Thermarest to the test.
After using these for only a few days, I can honestly say this is “the” most comfortable sandal I’ve ever had. Martin has injected several proprietary patented features into the GPS model but what makes it unique is the partnership with Thermarest in the footbed. Thermarest? has been around since the 70’s as outdoor purveyors of mattresses and pillows and I’m psyched my feet are well taken care of in the jungle.
Don’t just take my word, check out what other people have to say. Support good people doing good things. Support Freewaters.
August 26, 2013
Coming to a neighborhood near you. The New Women’s 686 Fall/Winter Collection.
August 23, 2013
I’m in Salt Lake City for a quickie day trip to see my friends at Beacon Audio. Welcome to the studio.
Lots of photo porn on the walls, care of fellow SLC native and ex snow shred, Nate Christenson.
The latest and greatest.
Beacon is run by two of my good friends, Shane and Thomas. Hey there fellas.
Shane’s the face and co-founder while Thomas is the design guru and co-founder of Beacon. Together with their trusty crew of young talented heads, they have something special going on. The Phoenix is what started it all a few years ago.
Shane got the Black and Red for yah.
The thing that’s creating all the buzz as of recent is their latest offering called the Blazar.
Although Beacon may seem bigger than it really is, they are home grown in SLC with an enormous amout of great ideas and are refined in LA and NY with musicians that back them up heavy. To help push this story, they teamed up with Kickstarter to make it come front and center.
Shane gives me the private tour behind the complexities of the Blazar and what makes it so unique.
I like how it feels.
One full piece of extracted Aluminum like your Macbook pro.
The magical powers to be.
Packaging is everything.
Order yours NOW before there all gone.
August 22, 2013
I get a lot of things sent to my office, but one thing I don’t see that often is booze. Well it’s not exactly booze, but it is. Fellow friend and beautiful wife to our 686 and Matix So Cal rep, Jayla recently launched her brand called Bon Affair. It’s a mix between a spritzer and a wine, but with healthy attributes of electrolytes and zero calories.
White (Sauvignon Blanc).
Did I mention it was good for you.
Finding your own path
August 21, 2013
No, it's not Old School.
And no, we’re not going streaking.
But Yes, I am at the University of Southern California (USC)
This will be my 5th year going back to my Alma Mater, USC and speaking to the students. Each semester for the past 5 years I’ve been blessed to speak to business school students on my journey as an undergrad to where I’m at today. Mr. Tommy Knapp was a guest speaker during my hey days at USC and now he’s here as a Biz Professor. Hello Tommy.
With my recent time here, it almost seems like I’m an adjunct professor. Hmmm, that’s an interesting idea… I’ll save that for another mash up. For now I’m here to have a discussion with students who currently does not have business as a major but considering the options. As a student, this is what it looked like from my POV. I was always the dude in the back.
Besides the gum under the desks, I think I made a mark or two as well.
Coming back to school and having a chance to be a part of a young person’s life is priceless. Thank you and thank you.
August 20, 2013
“Skateboarding is something you get into because you don’t want to play by the rules but look at us now, it’s nothing but rules – you can’t do this, this trick is not cool, etc.” Marc Johnson (MJ).
Matix ambassador, Skateboard Icon, An intelligent human being, A person who tells it like it is, Marc Johnson is not afraid of anything especially when it comes to what’s happening within the industry. Everyone has a point of view, but only a few will come out and tell it like it is. I’ve always believed and lived by the motto that authenticity is everything-Industries like skateboarding should be run by people who are skateboarders themselves. Makes sense? With the commercialization and success stories like A&F and Hollister, it makes you wonder who’s driving the ship. Is Authenticity needed to be successful or does being successful bring authenticity? MJ touches on this as well as a few other happenings in Jenken Mag’s no holds barred interview.
High Tech | Good Times
August 19, 2013
High Tech | Good Times are coming soon. The new 686 Winter 13/14 site is only a few weeks away. Until then, you check out the sneak previews NOW @686 #686 #hightechgoodtimes
August 16, 2013
We recently announced the launch of the Matix Workshop -a traveling custom trailer built for the purpose of making sure our products are custom fit to your needs. Matix’s core is denim so why not have the denim work for you. Our first stop is Spyder Boards in Hermosa Beach. This brings back memories for me as a young grom. About 25 years ago I was on their first skateboard team with my friends. Hello Spyder.
Lets go inside the workshop. Matix Wovens.
Buy one, get them tailored just for you.
Fun times for everyone. Little miss Dunlap making some custom button.
From the ground up.
Inside Spyder, Matix is well represented throughout.
Spyder is owned and operated by Dennis and Dickie. I grew up with Dickie in MB. Dennis (Jarvis) is an icon shaper in the Surf industry and still powers it out today.
Here’s the graphics I remember when I was on the team.
Doggers for the kids and PBR for the adults. See you soon.
August 15, 2013
Positive, Great Style, Hard Working, Intelligent, Creative, Gives Back, Thinker – what more can you ask for in a decent human being? I’m fortunate enough to meet a lot of good peeps but there’s only a few who stand out above the rest. Chris Friel is that dude in a great way. Not only does he entail the above traits, he’s this and more. Chris rolled by the Westlife neighborhood to say what’s up at our new HQ.
If you haven’t heard, his company Wonderland Sun is going off in the best stockists around the globe (American Rag, Fred Segal, Revolve to Active, Jacks and Swell). Wonderland is “a celebration of memories of yesterday and a reminder to capture the memories of today. It is about capturing the reminiscence you experience when viewing old photos, dreaming of simpler times.” I like his take on the 909. Check out Riverside through Chris’s eyes.
If anyone asks me the secret of success, I tell them that besides the fact there are no rules, you need to surround yourself with the right people. Mr. Friel and his nostalgic dreams of Wonderlanding in the Sun is definitely one of them. Support Chris and support Wonderland.
August 14, 2013
I ran into Matix coastal ambassador, JJ Wessels and he looked a bit off. I mean he was his normal positive, care free self but seemed a little tired. I asked him “whats up” and JJ told me he and his homie Colin just returned from New Brunswick, Canada. “What the hell were you doing up there?” I asked. “Oh, I just rode a tidal bore in the Petitcodiac River for 18 miles...”
WTF? Yes JJ and Colin set some world records for 18 miles of surfing as well. This is what JJ looked like after the session. Good times?
August 13, 2013
I consider myself a curated collector. I don’t collect for the sake of collecting. I collect for the sake of good design and great storytelling. The saying that “they don’t make them how they use to” applies to every industry from construction, manufacturing and graphic design. Don’t get me wrong, in most cases they actually make them better today than yesterday but it’s sometimes the method in the way they do it.
The National Safety Council turns 100 years old in 2013. Back then, no one had a Macbook Pro or Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop to make it come to life. They had pure talent, pen and paper. I came across these NSC vintage posters at a flea market and wanted to share the digital versions to y’all. Remember, safety first!
A place in the sun
August 12, 2013
New Balance Numeric’s first collection is beginning to ship into the best skate retailers across the globe. We’ve had a tremendous amount of demand but strict on how much product we get out to the right stockists who support skateboarding. You’ll finally start to see a lot of the marketing and limited strike releases we’ve been planning the past year.
About 5 years ago when I imagined the NB# aesthetic, I wanted to showcase New Balance’s timeless east coast heritage and craftsmanship in producing footwear for over 100 years. At the same time, we needed it to make sense for skateboarding and show how the west coast gets things done.
I’m proud how the NB# marketing team (Seb, Russell, Rattray) made this all come alive in our first short film called “A place in the sun” Big ups to them alongside PJ, Arto, Tom, Levis, Jordan and Tyler).
August 9, 2013
You draw like a GIRL
August 8, 2013
50% of business will fail within the first year. 9% have a chance of surviving a decade and less than 2% will do it for twenty years. Just last year, 686 past the double decade mark and Matix is on their fifteenth.
The creative minds at Girl skateboards celebrated their twentieth by getting their retail supporters to become a part of it.
So many iconic visionaries have been part of the Girl family, I would be personally honored to draw like a Girl.
Support the stockists who are our soldiers on the battlefield.
From the Ground UP
August 7, 2013
Everything has a beginning. Matix has been around for 15 years but we continually strive to become better by doing what we love and surrounding ourselves with rad people. From the Ground UP.
We’re getting ready for the upcoming Spring 14 collection and have things locked and loaded just for you. New Collection.
And this special thing-The Matix Workshop coming to a specialty retailer near you!
Made with Matix pride, one stamp at a time.
August 6, 2013
What does this all mean?
It means that New Balance Numeric ambassador Arto Saari is a damn good photog.
We just wrapped the Spring 14 show for NB# and it went down with serious business conversations like this.
Stay tuned for more serious powerpoint presentations like this special NB# video coming soon.
August 5, 2013
Over the weekend I checked out the Sunset Strip Music Festival in Hollywood. Look who’s in the neighborhood.
Since it was my first time, I didn’t know what to expect except there were a ton of heads rolling around.
Besides hanging with the homies and enjoying the weekend, I came to support my friends from Linkin Park - Lights, Camera, Action!
Chester doing double duty with STP and LP.
Some dope Visual effects going on here. From what I heard from a flying bird, “you ain’t seen nuthin yet”
I remember the first time I saw LP live was one of their first shows at Sierra @ Tahoe in South Lake during the late 90’s. Mike (Shinoda) told me that it was one of the only shows they’ve ever played on a mountain. Speaking of Mike, he absolutely killed it and emotionally told the audience that coming back to Sunset was a surreal experience, considering the last time here was when they just played with Jay Z and Paul McCartney.
Side note, Mr. Shinoda has great taste in headwear
One of the best live shows I’ve been to over the past two decades. Good times and good night.
Be water my friend
August 2, 2013
Legends never die.
NATAS not SATAN
August 1, 2013
To get on my list of all-time favorite skateboarders, it takes someone who not only is unique, but also has moved the needle for the entire industry as a whole. Because my core time in skate was from 1986-1989 my list is defined as someone who I looked up to as a kid and I continually look up to today. Being blessed with traveling the globe for work and meeting a lot of great people I never get star struck if I meet someone. However each time I get to meet the below top 5, I geek out every single time.
My top 5 skateboarders of All-Time
My #1 is Natas Kaupas. Why Natas? I won’t go into details but here are a few important things that Natas meant to me.
-Changed the game in Street Skating
-Introduced me to Public Enemy
-Legendary stomping grounds like Venice Pavilion, Venice High, Kenter and Paul Revere schools
-Oceanside NSA 1986
-Santa Monica Airlines
-Streets of Fire
-Fire Hydrant Spins
-Happy Human Being
Most of you have no idea what the above list means nor even know who Natas is. Please check the below video and see for yourself.