„It’s on these rugged mountain trails where Jean-Luc & Nico had the idea for what would become HOKA."

Radical change often comes about in trying to solve a simple problem. The original goal of the brand’s founders, Jean-Luc Diard und Nicolas Mermoud, was to improve endurance race times by designing a shoe to go downhill faster. In doing so, they inadvertently reinvented the running shoe.

The new shoes improved the experience of going uphill too. And down again. And up again. It turns out that redesigning a shoe that helps an athlete tackle 100 miles in challenging conditions can help all runners perform.

While trail runners by night, their day jobs were in gravity sports. Jean-Luc and Nicolas had a hand in several snow sport and cycling innovations - including the parabolic ski - and everyday they asked themselves the question, "How do we go faster?" When they imposed a form-follows-function discipline to designing a trail running shoe, they asked the same question. They answered it with a shoe that was met with ridicule by running shoe establishments, but embraced by runners. Those runners started winning races, and running shoe buyers started paying attention.

The design ethos owes as much to surfing, skiing and cycling as running, and the patented elements they incorporated into the original shoe - aka the Hoka difference - influence every shoe they build.