A Visit inside 686

22 Oct, 2009

The California adventure started with an early flight to Los Angeles on yesterday morning and once I received my rental car, I was off to visiting the snowboard companies in the Southern California area.

The first stop of the adventure was 686, the outerwear and apparel company that brings new meaning to a three letter set of numbers. They have technical features, fun designs and an outlook that isn’t afraid to make it known what goes on behind the scenes.  What many don’t know is 686 may be perceived as a larger brand but behind the curtain isn’t very many employees (around 20 or so) that keep the business running.

I met up with Kristin Cusic Vice President of Marketing to get the full tour of 686 and check out the happenings behind a small company gone big.

Walking into 686 you know exactly where you are

The first part of the tour was the designers room where it was peacefully quiet since they operate on different hours.  Currently they are working on 11-12 outerwear and some changes in store for two years ahead.  That is all top secret so no pictures taken.

Mike West, owner of 686 was out of town but I was given the opportunity to check out his office and we made sure to put Kristin in the hot seat while he was gone.  Of all the owners of companies, Mike does an amazing job with blogging especially to be very honest about where 686 is made, in China and a amazing look at the factory and relationship between the company and factory.  You can check out his blog here.

Wooden artwork of his favorite items

Inside Mike’s office was this limited edition New Balance release they have started to announce and do the press on.  It boldly goes the distance for the New Balance/686 Collab.

It’s moving time for 686 as the current collections are moved from the showroom floor and the new 10-11 collection is inside ready to be shown.

Which means I got to step inside the 10-11 showroom for a sneak peak out gear that will be coming out at SIA in Denver this January.  Kristin knows I’m a huge fan of the Snaggletooth line and I got to see how it evolves into a “family” for 10-11 and I think they are my favorite yet!  Each year they continue to impress, but I won’t dive too into detail since plenty of time before it will come out.

686 Employee room

Outside the offices, 686 has their own set up to create anything they would like.  Posters that will make their way to stores walls, the possibilities are endless and saves them the cost of outsourcing it.

I’ve been on a good amount of snowboard office tours but wasn’t expecting the massive warehouse that makes up 686’s US Distribution.  What you see in these photos is only a portion and the warehouse was insanely massive and packed full of outerwear.

Rows and Rows

Mike is innovative and each year the jackets always impress with creative ways to showcase something, previously I’ve seen money made into the 686 jacket and now it’s Lay’s chip bags into a jacket.  It’s part of their upcoming line that reuses leftover material and showcasing that theory.

Another creative design, go Dodgers!

The journey ended at Kristin’s office where we were able to sit and talk.  It’s always refreshing to visit the offices, meet the staff and just talk outside of the tradeshows.  686 has been running Free Fridays and Kristin is the decider of the entries that people get stoked on trying to win outerwear every Friday.

Thank you 686 and Kristin for the tour yesterday!

About the author


From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!

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  1. jkm
    October 22, 2009

    omg that red new balance kit! was that just a prototype? i thought they only came in black + white…

  2. Millie Ho
    October 22, 2009

    I thought so to, JKM, the orange-red NB x 686 boots are awesome!! The whole set is beautiful!! Where can i find them?

  3. JB
    October 22, 2009

    Ha KC is rad.

  4. JP
    October 22, 2009

    I love 686, best combo of quality, style and functionality out there.

  5. Ali
    October 22, 2009

    Man now I am wondering if I should wait to get next years Snaggletooth Jacket or this years… so jealous you got see them Shay.

  6. October 22, 2009

    Mike and his crew really know how to run s*#t! Great write up.

  7. mulbee
    October 23, 2009

    man, i wish my office had an employee room! 686 gettin it done

  8. gags
    October 26, 2009

    686 crushes! Glad you got to visit them Shay….great people!

  9. October 27, 2009

    Good question on the NB set coming out, unfortunately there are only 20 made and as a gift so won’t be able to purchase it. I’ll find out more when the press release comes out about it.

    Ali, I still love this years and blue is a favorite color. It’s tough though since I won’t be able to show a picture of it till late January. If you like the series, I think you’ll like each seasons and some more than others. If you waited it would be another year of missing out on the fun of this years jacket.

  10. Ali
    October 28, 2009

    Thanks Shay. I think Blue is the most liked color in the world and that shade of it on this years jacket is just too good to pass on so I am gonna get this years.

  11. October 30, 2009

    Ali, totally the blue is really fun. Stoked you are getting it, we’ll have to have a monster meet up!