How HOKA got us hooked with collaborations

How HOKA got us hooked with collaborations

by Ollie Cox
5 min

A few years ago, HOKA was a brand favoured by hardcore trail runners. Fast-forward to 2024, and it’s loved by comfort-loving Creative Directors, cool mums and dads, and fashion designers. You might be asking, how did it get here? 

HOKA was founded in 2009 by Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard in Annecy, France, but is headquartered in Richmond, California. It is focused on technology-driven shoes with a cushioned midsole, prioritising comfort and speed across its silhouettes, designed for running down steep mountains. 

Now, the brand has expanded its cultural appeal beyond its initial core running fanbase thanks to a carefully curated list of collaborations. These link-ups have been responsible for some catwalk clout, reimagined its sneakers with some of the best in the business, and solidified its brand image with a streetwear cosign. If you want to know how HOKA got us hooked, we’ve unpacked some of the coolest collaborations below. 

A mega Junya Watanabe mule

Junya Watanabe knows a thing or two about jazzing up a sneaker, and for the brand’s FW24 collection, we got a co-branded Ora Primo mule revamped for the runway, adorned with tasty chain detailing. The collaboration did away with the sneaker’s usual thick rope laces and instead opted for a sans-lace style for a chic, comfort-focused design—and we’re always here for a merging of fashion and function. 

The HOKA Ora Primo silhouette was initially made for some post-run relief, but thanks to its distinctive padded profile, has found itself worn by the fashion community. Its futuristic design makes this the perfect match for Junya Watanabe, a label known for its avant-garde approach, which regularly experiments with reworking – which was what we got with this mega mule. While no release date has been announced yet, we’ll keep you updated across our channels. 

A sexy Satisfy Running collaboration 

Whether you fancy yourself as East London’s best-dressed runner or just an enjoyer of quality clobber, Satisfy Running has you covered for both. If you’re a sneaky Strava stalker, you might have noticed Satisfy founder Brice Partouche is partial to a HOKA Clifton 9 on his Paris long-runs, so it’s no surprise that the two came together for a Clifton LS Satisfy Running.  

The sneaker bridged trail and road running features including a double heel pull and a smart speed lace system. While built to handle anything thrown at it, this runner looked as good as it performed, sending trendy runners’ minds racing as they considered whether to save the shoe as a beloved pub stomper or to put it through its paces. We were a huge fan of this collaboration and can only hope for more Satisfy and HOKA link-ups in the future.  

Banging heads with Braindead 

Last year, HOKA teamed up with Los Angeles-based streetwear label Brain Dead for a take on the HOKA Hopara hiking sandal. The sandal features a quick-lace system and textured neoprene tongue to help its wearer navigate wet and dry terrain. It arrived in pea-pod green, perfect for the outdoors. 

We know Braindead has often been ahead of the curve when it comes to archival revivals, as seen in its Oakley Factory Team releases, which have resurrected vintage Oakley pieces, feeding in the current yearning for Y2K techwear. By collaboration with HOKA, Brain Dead has further pushed the label to the fore of streetwear fans, further pushing the outdoors-rooted brand onto the cool crowd. 

Some Nicole McLaughlin niceness 

Nicole McLaughlin is an outdoor-loving designer who has made a name for herself with her playful upcycling. For a gorp enthusiast like McLaughlin, a collaboration with HOKA feels like a match made in escapist heaven. 

The HOKA x Nicole McLaughlin Mafate Three2, paired a cushioned Vibram sole unit with a four-in-one gaiter system, arriving in a “High Risk” yellow and red colourway. This limited-edition style came with an additional gorpy gaiter. The sneaker perfectly compared McLaughlin’s outside-the-box thinking with HOKA’s tech-focused versatility and helped cement the brand’s solid lifestyle offering. 

Cover Image Credit: @pierredavid for @satisfyrunning

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