Since Michael Akira West first stepped on a skateboard in the early eighties, he always had ideas in his head. The freedom that skateboarding provided begat a lifelong quest for freedom of expression through all forms of mediums. Engulfed in the progressive street skateboarding scene in Hermosa and Venice Beach, Mike was introduced to snowboarding in Big Bear, CA and immediately found a new addiction and inspiration. Throughout the following years, Mike transitioned from skateboarding to snowboarding and worked and rode Big Bear, pushing personal progression and all the while continually gathering and exploring new ideas.
After finishing school at the University of Southern California, Mike realized that if he was going to do something on his own, it should begin when he had nothing to lose. Using punk, rap and jazz music as well as his collection of sneakers and vintage clothing as forms of inspiration, Mike got to work. What started as a class project, now became and obsession.On November 13, 1992, 686 technical apparel was formed.
The 686 name has its roots in numerics. While you may have heard a lot of stories, there is actually a very deep and personal explanation of what 686 means to Mike West. The name stems from personal dates and numbers in Mike’s life that all merged together at the perfect time. However personal it started as, the number has now become synonymous with technical progression and fashion fusion. Since the beginning, 686 has been about providing innovative, fashionable outerwear and technical apparel inspired from the same Los Angeles street culture and mountain lifestyle it was founded upon.
686 trademarked products and features – integrated SMARTY® removable liners, Thermagraph™ strategic body mapping insulation, infiDRY® waterproof and breathable innovations, the patented Toolbelt® line of functional belts, and support of the DIY ethos all push 686 beyond the boundaries imagined some 23 years ago.