Founded in France and now headquartered in Goleta, California, HOKA ONE ONE was founded in 2009 by sporting innovators Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard. Trail runners by night, the pair had day jobs pursuing faster speeds in snow sports and cycling. Their shared quest for speed over challenging terrain had them experimenting with trail-shoe design that allowed for uninterrupted momentum - as opposed to the stop and start, high impact toll that is characteristic of trail running.
“Radical change often comes about in trying to solve a simple problem. Our original goal was to improve endurance race times by designing a shoe to go downhill faster. In doing so, we inadvertantly reinvented the running shoe.”
Their first prototypes were made with one goal, to fly down the French Alps where they ran. The idea was relatively simple, but revolutionary (coming at the peak of the minimalist running shoe trend): Combine premium cushioning with a low heel-toe drop, a wider footbed, and a rocker in the midsole. The results were enough cushion to soften rough terrain and maximum energy return to boost momentum. It was a maximalist shoe that doubled down on comfort.
Ridiculed by running shoe establishments in their race to eliminate as many elements of a running shoe as possible, HOKA was nevertheless embraced by runners - particularly the most hardcore among them, trail ultramarathoners. The running world had no choice but to start paying attention.
More than just a running shoe, HOKA ONE ONE is what good design feels like and has spread into every walk of life that values healthy living and recreation. Collaborations with Engineered Garments and Outdoor Voices prove that a shoe built to withstand the toughest endurance events in the world, is very comfortable in other settings too. Thankfully, living an active and healthy life and representing that in your style can also look good.