What a decade. As one of footwear’s newest billion-dollar brands, Hoka has skyrocketed under Deckers direction. It’s an impressive feat given that the performance running brand had sales of less than $3 million when the company acquired the brand in 2012.
“Getting to $1 billion was a challenge. Growing beyond $1 billion is even more challenging, and that’s what we’re working on,” said Stefano Caroti, interim president of Deckers’ performance lifestyle group, which includes Hoka.
Caroti, who also serves as president of omnichannel at the company, said hitting the next big goal of crossing the $1.5 billion mark in 2023 will happen if Hoka stays true to its core values, continues to defy convention and inspire people to move confidently.
He added that increasing brand awareness to “record levels,” expanding its international business and growing its market share
in both run specialty and outdoor specialty retail will also be achieved through innovation and by providing consumers product that turns heads.
So far in 2023, Hoka has delivered the Clifton 9, an update to its acclaimed neutral running shoe, as well as its pinnacle road racing model, the Rocket X 2. On the outdoor side, the brand has released the Trail Code GTX lightweight hiking boot. By staying true to the values that made it a contender in the hypercompetitive athletic and outdoor markets, the brand continues to steal share in the running market and has no plans of slowing down.
“Hoka was able to create a whole new class of product and find a way to bring mass appeal at the same time — a magical one-two punch,” said Naperville Running Co. owner Kris Hartner. “While the value is clear in volume of sales that Hoka represents today, having been along for the ride since the early days, it has built an even better connection for today’s run specialty retailers.”
Although performance is its bread and butter, Hoka has also made inroads with the fashion-focused consumer.
For example, secondary market platform StockX — a destination for sneakerheads — revealed in January that Hoka was its second-fastest-growing sneaker brand, experiencing 713% trade growth over 2021.
“This company revolutionized the run category,” Caroti said. “We brought a shape, a geometry to the running category
that didn’t exist before, and that’s what speaks to people. The brand resonates with the StockX consumer, the lifestyle consumer, because it is deeply authentic.”
He continued, “Ensuring we stay authentic and bring innovative solutions to improve performance is critically important, and this will also continue to resonate on the lifestyle side.”
This popularity among the style-savvy is also fueled by collaborations with brands, designers and retailers that have an affinity for Hoka, such as Free People and J.L-A.L. Its most recent collaborator, boutique retailer Bodega, reimagined the brand’s trail ready Tor Ultra Lo and Hi hiking boots, employing Southwestern hues to create its “World Large” collection.
“Sneakerheads are actually many different kinds of consumers, and there is a big group that loves Hoka collabs,” said Bodega co-founder Jay Gordon. “Hoka is super on point in serving both the individualist and the gorpcore consumer looking for something functional and stylish.”
Looking ahead, Hoka has two shoes it believes will become an instant hit with consumers. One is the Mach X, a running shoe built with a pebax plate to propel the runner forward faster. Because Hoka opted for a pebax plate rather than carbon fiber, Caroti said the Mach X — which is slated to release in July — will have a more accessible price point. The other shoe is the Transport X, a new version of its travel-oriented style that has been updated with a carbon fiber plate.
Additional plans for 2023, Caroti said, include the debut of a kids’ collection this month, the opening of 24 owner-operated retail locations globally and 27 partner stores, plus a bolstered investment in the outdoor category and the release of a new campaign and brand anthem, which will launch in July.