HOKA ONE ONE
Founded in 2009 by French trail runners Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard, Hoka began just as the minimalist shoes movement was reaching its peak. In spite (or because) of that trend, Hoka shoes offered the antithesis to those barefoot models: maximalist cushioning that cradled runners’ feet. Inspired by the smooth ride of mountain bikes and powder skis, Mermoud and Diard wanted to bring a similar “floating feel” to running. They initially made prototypes themselves and worked with a chemist at a Chinese shoe company to develop an entirely new kind of EVA foam that was soft and surprisingly lightweight—characteristics that are now hallmarks of Hoka kicks.