Who Owns Hoka Shoes Company? Origin and Development

Simply put, Hoka, otherwise known as Hoka One One, was founded and owned by running buddies Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard. While they’re still involved with the design and creation of the brand’s latest releases, Hoka is now owned by Deckers Outdoor Corporation.

Hoka is a brand that you’ve definitely heard of before. Being one of the most popular running shoe brands in the world, Hoka has established itself as a shoe company that athletes can trust.

And that’s just the starting line!

Let’s go on a deep dive into the history of Hoka. We’ll be going through everything you need to know about the brand. Know why they’re well-loved by all kinds of athletes and who the minds behind their latest shoes are.

What Is the Meaning Behind the Name Hoka One One?

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Hoka One One is actually the real name of the brand. Though, most people just know it as Hoka. Even though the brand is super popular, many people still get their name wrong. The name is pronounced as Hoka Oh-ay Oh-nay, not One One like the number.

Derived from Maori, the language of the indigenous of New Zealand. Hoka One One roughly translates as “to fly over the Earth.” They settled on the name because they admire New Zealand’s rich adventure heritage.

Where is Hoka Made?

Initially, Hoka conducted most of its production in China. However, the brand recently switched its main production to Vietnam. They also have production plants in the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, and Cambodia.

When Was Hoka Founded?

Hoka was founded back in 2009 by two Frenchmen, Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard. They were looking for running shoes that wouldn’t slow them down when running downhill. But they couldn’t find any.

So, they created their own!

The Rise of Hoka Shoes

You may be wondering, what exactly makes Hoka Shoes stand out from the rest?

Hoka shoes are very distinct with their game-changing maximalized cushion approach. These are, without a doubt, the most comfortable pair of running shoes I own.

Their maximalist running shoe is built with sturdy, yet soft and lightweight cushioning. In just a couple of years after being founded, Hoka was able to establish itself as a fashionable and reliable running shoe choice.

They were actually able to break the billion-dollar mark in 2022. Just 13 years after they were founded!

The People Behind the Brand: Who Owns Hoka Shoes?

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Now, let’s get to know the brand’s founders, Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard, a little better.

Both of them were running buddies who worked at the Salomon Sporting Goods Company. They were passionate adventure athletes who loved running on trails. The inspiration for creating maximalist running shoes actually came from the founders’ wanting trail running shoes that could perform well when running down steep terrain.

2009 was a time when minimalist running shoes were the norm. Barefoot running shoes were rampant, and it was quite a stark difference from the thickly cushioned midsoles that Hoka was introducing. Nicolas and Jean-Luc never thought that their brand would take off the way it did, but luckily, it did!

Hoka’s Humble Origins in France

The idea to create their own shoe came about because Nicolas and Jean-Luc wanted to create “the world’s greatest running shoe.”

When Nicolas and Jean-Luc were still designing, they were planning on creating an accessory. Because they were situated in the French Alps, they ran down natural terrain. They didn’t like that they always had to slow down when running downhill. So, they considered making a slip-on running shoe accessory that could help them maintain their speed when going downhill.

But, once they created their first working prototype, they knew that were onto something. What was meant to be a running shoe accessory, turned into a full-on running shoe. And in time, Hoka One One was born.

The Hoka Bondi’s was actually the brand’s flagship model! Until now, the Bondi’s are among their most popular models.

Crafting Perfection: The Engineering and Design Behind Hoka’s Success

As I mentioned earlier, Hoka’s signature maximalist cushioned running shoes are what really set them apart from other brands. After all, that’s what they’ve become known for.

That’s not all, though!

Hoka has 3 distinct design elements that you can find in any of their shoes. Starting off with their Meta-Rocker Technology. Hoka’s have thick soles that taper towards the front of the shoe. The unique shape makes it so you rock with every step since it keeps you from landing flat on your feet. This creates a smooth ride, no matter the pace or surface that you’re running on.

Let’s talk about their super thick cushioning too. All Hoka’s have thick midsoles that keep you spry on your feet. They’re also quite lightweight considering all the cushioning on the shoe. Compared to other heavily cushioned shoes on the market, theirs are on the lighter side. Hoka’s are so comfy, you can stand around all day and not feel a single ache in your feet — I know I don’t!

Lastly, Hoka’s were made to make running on uneven or rugged terrain as smooth as possible. Their oversized, wide soles are actually a result of Nicolas Mermoud’s sharp thinking. He assumed that since most athletic gear made for mountains was oversized, then the same oversized technology would apply to running shoes as well.

Marathoners, trail runners, casual joggers, and even walkers all agree that Hoka’s are a must-have. Though they can be a little pricey, they are worth the hefty price tag. No matter the model you pick, you’ll get soft, supportive cushioning and a comfortable ride.

Navigating the Running Landscape: Hoka’s Place in Today’s Market

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For plenty of years, the athletic shoe market was dominated by brands like Nike, Adidas, Asics, and New Balance. Additionally, when Hoka was first introduced into the market, it was one of the first shoes of its kind. Hoka put the word “Maximalist running shoe” into the limelight.

But, of course, it was difficult. At the time they were first released, barefoot minimalist shoes were all the rage. They were the preferred type of performance shoe. But, in a market that catered to athletes who liked minimalist shoes, Hoka was able to cater to the opposite side of the spectrum. Hoka also markets itself as the perfect footwear for any activity. Whether you’re walking the dog or going on a 100km run.

Even if Hoka is a billion-dollar brand now, it doesn’t mean that everyone loves them. I do and I know plenty of athletes who do too. But there are also people who’ve decided that maximalist shoes aren’t their cup of tea. In terms of favorability, they fall behind when compared to other big brands. But, they’re slowly beginning to close the gap.

Hoka Parent Company: Acquisition by Deckers Brands

In 2013, 4 years after Hoka was founded, they were acquired by Deckers Outdoor Corporation. They’re the same parent company of other popular brands like UGG, Teva, and Sanuk. This acquisition paved the way for Hoka to be distributed around the U.S., and worldwide.

When Hoka was first introduced in the United States in 2010, they had to work with a very tight budget. In fact, most of their budget for it came out of their pockets. So it was vital that the brand took off upon launch. In 2012, Deckers began investing in the brand. Shortly after that, the Deckers officials noticed that the brand was gaining momentum. Especially since minimalist shoes were beginning to fade out of popularity. Maximalist shoes were going to be the next big thing and they knew it.

Since Hoka’s acquisition in 2013, the original founders, Nicolas and Jean-Luc, are still hands-on during the shoe design process. They have reduced their day-to-day roles. But they still play a big part in the consultation and conceptualization process. So, don’t worry, because the heart and purpose of Hoka remain the same. The pair and Deckers are still committed to creating the best running shoes in the world.

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Expanding the Hoka Lineup and Audience

As maximalist-style running shoes began to gain popularity, so did Hoka. They were beginning to fill in the gap in the running shoe market by creating running shoes that were so different from the norm.

One of Hoka’s biggest selling points is its Meta-Rocker Technology. A term we briefly covered earlier in the article. If I were to describe what it feels like, it feels like walking on a marshmallow that boosts that bounce in your step. Or, you could also think of them as wheels on your feet!

The brand did become popular for its super thick midsoles, but they didn’t stop the innovation there. Hoka continues to expertly craft shoe models that accommodate any type of running.

Currently, Hoka offers a wide variety of shoes for Men, Women, and Children. Though they started by creating trail running shoes, Hoka has now expanded. They have shoes for walking, hiking, general fitness, and even casual wear. Many Hoka lovers say that these shoes offer support, flexibility, and comfort. No matter what activity you’ll be using them for.

Since they have plenty of models out there, every runner is going to recommend a different one. Here are some key shoe launches that helped solidify Hoka’s place at the top. The Hoka Clifton, Bondi, Speedgoat, and Arahi models are among their best-sellers. Each model is made for a different purpose. But if you were gonna ask me, I’d say that any of these models is a great starter Hoka shoe regardless of activity.

The Future of Hoka Running Shoes

Hoka is a brand that’s big on sustainability. As a part of the United National Global Compact (UNGC), Hoka does its part in saving the planet. So, if you’re someone who only wants to support eco-friendly, sustainable brands then you’ll love Hoka.

But, moving on to what’s in store for the brand.

Hoka’s strong presence in the industry means that its reach is slowly but surely expanding. The Deckers CEO mentioned that Hoka plans to release new products more often. They also want to appeal to more audiences by offering more width options, colorways, and aesthetic designs. Of course, they plan on keeping their signature maximalist cushioning.

Since there’s been a lot of interest in outdoor activities, Hoka wants to release more trail running and hiking products. Not only shoes, but clothing too. If you’re an avid fan of Hoka, then this is all great news because you have tons of new things to look forward to!

Lastly, Deckers also wants to look into opening standalone retail stores for Hoka. Currently, you can only get them online or through mainstream sporting goods chains. Being able to open a standalone will provide a great boost in their popularity.

Hoka Controversies and Criticisms

Before we wrap things up, it’s also good to take in some of the negative things people have to say about the brand. No brand is perfect, after all.

The wide base and thick cushions of Hoka’s isn’t everyone’s preference. Many people have called them clunky and ugly, even going as far as calling them ‘clown shoes’. However, they did become a fashion trend for a while after multiple A-list celebrities were seen wearing them. But even still, a lot of people, athletes included, think that Hoka’s are fad shoes with mushy soles.

There have also been some concerns with Hoka’s signature thick soles. Some studies have found that wearing thick cushioned shoes can increase potential injuries. Since the soles are so thick, they can increase your impact force when running. Increased impact force is attributed to an increased risk of injury. Which puts off some athletes from trying Hoka’s out in the first place.

Additionally, there have also been some durability complaints. Runners have been able to get about 500 – 600km out of their Hoka’s. But, a lot of them have mentioned that their uppers wear out way faster than the outsoles. Sometimes their uppers will wear out way before their outsoles do. Forcing them to grab a new pair of shoes before they need to.

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How does Hoka’s pricing compare with other major brands?

The average price of Hoka shoes is about $120 – $250. So it’s definitely on the pricier side of things. Compared to Nike whose average prices are at $120 – $180, Hoka’s are a little bit more expensive. But, I think that their price ranges are wide enough to have something for most budgets.

Overall, Hoka is priced quite high. Even when compared to other major brands like Adidas, Nike, New Balance, and Asics. I do believe that their prices are justified, though. You do get what you pay for.

What’s the feedback from professional athletes about Hoka?

Many leading Triathletes have good things to say about the brand. With many of them being sponsored by Hoka. It’s also good to remember that shoes are a very personal thing and that we all have our preferences.

So, there is also a fair share of professional athletes who stopped wearing Hoka’s because they found that the shoe just wasn’t for them.

In Summary

Founded by passionate adventure athletes from the French Alps, Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard. Hoka was created to be the perfect running shoe. It ticked all of their boxes, and soon after, it ticked other people’s boxes.

Hoka is a brand with a passionate fan base that only has good things to say about them. But even still, they have a divisive reputation. Hoka’s can be hit or miss. And for many others, they’re a miss.

Selecting the right model for you isn’t going to be easy. Because there are so many great options, it can be hard to choose. It can also be difficult to choose because most people need some time to get used to maximalist shoes like Hoka. A gradual transition into Hoka’s might be best for you if you’re trying them out for the first time.

All in all, as an avid fan of Hoka, I’m super excited to help you find the perfect pair of Hoka’s for you and your lifestyle. If you’re interested in learning more about their different models, keep reading!

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