HOKA may have a fun name, but they’re deeply serious about running. Over the last 11 years, the French company, headquartered in Goleta, California, has made considerable strides in the running community because of its incredible products. According to Spy’s running experts, they make some of the best running shoes in the world. The long story short is that HOKA gained considerable popularity with professional runners due to the brand’s superior cushioning and ultralight construction. Over time, and with continued advancements in running tech, HOKA has continued to hone its skill.
The brand’s latest innovation may be its most exciting yet: they’re opening retail locations in Los Angeles and New York City. The new HOKA stores officially opened their doors on Wednesday, October 1.
“The Los Angeles and New York pop-up stores let us meet the consumer where they are,” said Norma Delaney, Vice President Global Brand Marketing at HOKA, over email with SPY. “Los Angeles and New York are extremely valuable markets, and each location was chosen carefully as they sit in high-traffic areas, within communities focused on health and wellness.”
Located on 5th Avenue in Flatiron in NYC and Melrose Avenue in LA, the HOKA stores will not only have plenty of good products, like their recent collaboration with Engineered Garments or a killer running jacket but also plan to provide a brand new experience in the form of 3D foot scanning.
“We worked with Volumental to bring in their 3D foot scanning devices to each location, so that every consumer who walks through the door is able to learn about the unique build of their foot, without any purchase necessary,” said Delaney. “These devices leverage a combination of 3D foot scans, retail purchase data, and AI to analyze consumers’ feet and produce shoe recommendations based on these unique parameters.”
The stores look to translate that HOKA look and feel rather elegantly. They’re bright, vivid, and full of life, boasting wood accents to go alongside the colorful vibe the brand has cultivated over the years, as you’ll see in these photos of the Melrose store. You’ll also notice these stores look to host a handful of events; there’s a calendar in the Melrose store that details an upcoming run club, yoga class, and even a block party.
This, too, is by design; as Delaney states, “These spaces will also allow us to host events and offer programming to welcome consumers into the HOKA brand. We know that post covid consumers crave in-person experiences. Our focus is in developing gathering spaces for our communities that can add value by helping people connect with our brand ambassadors, elite athletes, product experts, and each other.” Additionally, each store will include “smart lockers… so that consumers could put their phone and bags away, roam the store with their hands-free, or go out for a run,” according to Delaney.
While HOKA shoes have been available at your local running shop, the HOKA stores will be the only place where you can get your hands on some of that striking apparel. Online ordering is great, sure, but there’s something about the actual physical experience of going into a store and getting to touch a product to see how it feels and fits.
In so many ways, this feels like the start of the next step for HOKA. The brand continues to gain momentum and traction, and these stores will continue to foster that development. The HOKA pop-ups will stay in operation through the end of the year, if not longer, so there’s plenty of time for customers to see (in person!) what all the fuss is rightfully about.
Of course, you can also shop for the brand’s running shoes and apparel online at the HOKA online store and via retailers such as Zappos.