Snowboard Iskola

On Earth Day 2024, 686 Apparel, the Los Angeles-based brand that has been a staple in snowboarding since 1992, announced that it is now a Certified B Corp.

Since its inception, 686 has been guided by "the philosophy of Kaizen," says the brand's founder, Michael Akira West. Kaizen is the Japanese philosophy of "continuous improvement" rooted in the idea that small and positive steps can result in large, beneficial change.

For 686, 8 years of work have culminated in achieving B Corp status.

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Mike Akira West, founder of 686, released this statement via @686 on Instagram:

As a kid growing up street skateboarding in the mid 80’s, one thing was obvious to me: people did not like skateboarders, and skateboarding wasn’t cool in the eyes of commercial authority. The driver of what made skateboarding special was the culture and the people who lived and breathed the independent nature of persevering through anything.

This is where I connected with skateboarding, through the DIY ethos of “if we believe it’s cool, then we must support it.” We supported not because it granted us access to a higher level of recognition, but because we wanted the heartbeat of skateboarding to outlive all of us.

As peripheral as this may sound, this laid the groundwork for me starting 686 over three decades ago. As a founder-led business, I’m driven to create a brand much bigger than myself or the products we make.

My dharma and purpose for 686 is to contribute to an ecosystem that’s positive for the world we live in. I firmly believe this is our calling and this is what gets me excited every morning to create work. At the same time, I want to collaborate with other like-minded brands and people that equally have the same goals. We are better together.

When I heard of B Corp 8 years ago, I immediately knew this was something that we could strive to be part of one day. I was, and still am, drawn to the continued evolution of self-improvement that the B Corp community encourages. The journey of consistent improvement over a long period is what drives me to do better.

This philosophy of Kaizen is what has guided 686 for over three decades. Becoming B Corp Certified not only represents what I live for personally and professionally, but symbolizes this continued journey of improvement for the brand.


Obtaining B Corp certification is not an easy feat. Similar to the USDA anointing a product as officially organic, B Corp status is determined by an independent non-profit called B Lab that evaluates a business of a variety of in-depth factors, from social responsibilities to environmental and sustainable practices, manufacturing and top-to-bottom stakeholder impact (i.e. labor and business practices).

B Lab defines the comprehensive designation: "Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose."

Key words here are "balance profit and business." The whole idea around becoming a B Corp business is that profit and social/environment impact are not mutually exclusive.

686 joins only a few thousand businesses worldwide that have received the important distinction, including in the snow industry, Burton and Patagonia, as well as Taos. You can check out the B Corp website to see each company's official rating, both overall and divided between five categories: governance, workers, community, environment, and customers.