WORDS BY SOPHIE HENDERSON
Worn by everyone from gorpcore-loving city dwellers to ultramarathon runners, HOKA ONE ONE shoes are at home on the world’s bustling pavements, winding tracks and serious mountain trails.
We spoke to David Whitfield (@dvd_ian), Creative Producer at HOKA ONE ONE about brand identity, fashion collaborations and HOKA sizing, not forgetting the best HOKA shoes for all of life’s adventures.
A Brief History of HOKA ONE ONE
Founded in Annecy, a historical French Alpine city, co-founders Jean-Luc Diard and Nicolas Mermoud were two former Salomon employees with an ingenious idea for what would become the HOKA ONE ONE brand we know today.
First making shoes to wear themselves on rugged mountain trails, the duo were heavily influenced by gravity sports, aiming to bring that same adrenaline rush to running itself.
Never satisfied, they carved, shaped and ran on countless foam prototypes. What Diard and Mermoud discovered was a solution to a universal running problem — maintaining momentum from stride-to-stride. Through what felt like endless downhill testing and improving, their dreams of HOKA inadvertently reinvented the running shoe.
What Makes HOKA ONE ONE Different?
“I think HOKA stands out from other brands in both style and ethos. HOKA entered the scene at a time when more minimal, low-profile shoes were everyone's go-to. Their maximalist approach is what made them so unique and recognisable. I also love that the brand is so inclusionary and approachable, which I feel is so important in pushing the needle for all sportswear brands which have historically been seen as much more elitist.”
With HOKA ONE ONE shoes, an enhanced cushioning and a meticulously engineered midsole work together to provide a smooth, soft and efficient stride. What initially worked on the world’s most punishing trails was adapted to help any runner, on any surface, at any pace.
Meta-Rocker geometry drives you forward and reduces the height differential between the heel and toe, complementing your normal gait cycle. The Active Foot Frame beds the heel and foot deeply into the midsole, while unique PROFLY™ and J-FRAME™ technologies offer a cushioned landing and dynamic stability to help with the likes of overpronation, plantar fasciitis and flat feet.
Promising to constantly improve in the pursuit of better running, HOKA will keep your momentum going in any environment, mile after mile, day after day.
Are HOKA ONE ONE shoes true to size?
“I’d say they’re on the snug side of true to size. If there are half sizes available I recommend to go half up."
Crafted from lightweight materials with a wider midsole, certain styles run narrow through the toe-box, therefore ‘wide’ size options are available.
The Best HOKA Collaborations
“One of my favorite things about HOKA is the way they’ve been adopted in the lifestyle space, the now legendary Tor Ultra Low Engineered Garments collab was actually how I discovered the brand. I think the careful nature with which HOKA selects collaboration partners is really refreshing in an age where the temptation to most is to flood the market.
“Outside of the collaboration space I love the Hopara sandals for summer, and the Bondi 7s as a shoe that goes with almost any outfit.”
Collaborating with everyone from Moncler to Bodega, HOKA has firmly established itself as a lifestyle brand. Its list of fashion collaborations has opened doors without losing authenticity and validity in the running space.
Known for creating a lasting relationship with Daiki Suzuki’s New York label Engineered Garments, HOKA x Engineered Garments fuses well-crafted materials and unique patterns to create an elevated version of the classic Bondi.
The Best HOKA for Road Running
A long-time favorite in the running community, HOKA’s Clifton range offers up versatile shoes with high levels of cushioning. Adding the Clifton 8 to its extensive roster, traditional rocker technology is met with lightweight comfort and an extended heel crash pad for a softer landing. Alternatively, the Clifton Edge pleases heel-strikers, especially when running downhill.
The Best HOKA for Trail Running
Built to offer support and cushioning in technical terrain over any distance, the Mafate Speed helps to provide a protective cushion while maintaining a responsive toe-off for when you want to go faster.
The Speedgoat 5 is updated with Vibram® Megagrip with Traction Lug for upgraded grip and braking power on loose soil, while the Torrent 2 is an alternative nimble trail racer. Even better, it uses recycled UNIFI REPREVE® yarn derived from post-consumer waste plastic.
The Best HOKA for Walking
The Bondi 7 is the most cushioned shoe in the HOKA road-shoe lineup, making it the most comfortable for both walking and running alike. Made from ultra-soft memory foam that’s designed to accommodate a narrower heel, the collar conforms to a wide variety of ankles, cradling the Achilles in pillow-like comfort.
Spot the classic all-black colourway on the streets of major cities across the world, both effortless to style and breathable too.
The Best HOKA for Hiking
Not just for running, HOKA’s roster of hiking boots and walking shoes is ever-growing. The Speedgoat 5 doubles up as a trail running shoe, while the Hopara silhouette is for true outdoor explorers.
Named after the Māori word for strength and support, the Kaha GORE-TEX® delivers both. With proprietary foams, patented geometries and Vibram® Megagrip traction, the Kaha will keep your feet comfortable and dry regardless of the conditions.