November 13th, 2022 marked 30 years since we shipped our first order. Founded in a college classroom at USC by Michael Akira West, 686 remains independently owned and operated by West to this day. We're celebrating this anniversary with a look back at three heritage pieces coupled with an optimistic look forward.
A lot has changed in snowboarding and skiing since the 90's era boom and 686 has been strapped in for the ride – often leading the industry in technical innovations like SMARTY 3-in-1 and our patented Hydrastash in-apparel hydration system, as well as being one of the first to collaborate with street artists and other like-minded brands.
"As a college student back in 1992, my dream was to explore how technical fabrications could be as one - between the city and the mountains. The goal was to create tech apparel that could be worn up in Big Bear one day and down in LA the next. On November 13, 2022, it will be 30 years as one of the last independently owned brands living and fulfilling this goal," Mike West says. "Our first order was from a black & white photocopied catalog at Kinko’s. Things were different back then - I handmade the apparel patterns, sourced the fabrics in Oregon, and managed all the cutting and sewing out of Downtown Los Angeles. I was working at Bear Mountain as their progressive snowboard scene boomed and would bring the inspiration it gave me back down to the city."
To celebrate this occasion of forward momentum, 686 founder Michael Akira West picked these meaningful garments to re-release in a limited-edition heritage collection. These three jackets are pieces of 686 history from our 30-year journey.
The Jib 1993 Fleece and 1992 Liberty Jacket are from the first winters when the brand was called "Jib Wear 686." They encapsulate the times of the park scene at Big Bear that went on to define snowboarding and freeskiing. The 2001 Transfer Jacket is a technically complex piece from the genre defining era that marked a design focus towards bigger mountains and inclement weather conditions while staying true to the technical athletic styles that were in-vogue. These three styles have gone around the block back into style full-circle.
While we celebrate this 30-year milestone, our North Star remains the same: Create innovative products to help you reach your summit - whatever that may be.