When it comes to athletic footwear brands, every consumer subjectively draws their own lines concerning what is and is not proper action, based on their own running goals, the goal standards of others and what is convenient for them at the point of purchase. Moreover, these days, most target audiences are looking for style.
Recently, I happened to review an exciting brand that is not following what I like to refer as the herd instinct. That is the instinct that makes us all conform to the tendencies of the masses. Herd instinct brands usually shovel out what we are use to until a new sheriff comes to town and shakes things up for the better. But the modern reality is that it may be in your long-term interest to have the courage to experiment with a brand that seems to be the catalyst for the future when it comes to footwear.
I am excited to share HOKA’s ground breaking new shoe, The Carbon X. The new Carbon X shoe embodies HOKA-signature max-cushion and minimal-weight to empower all athletes to reach their personal best. The Carbon X is unparalleled to any other running sneaker currently on the market in that it features a first-of-its kind carbon fiber plate, which allows for resupination under the ball of your foot. If you are an avid runner, I promise this sneaker will not disappoint.
I recently had the privilege of speaking with Wendy Yang, President of Performance Lifestyle Brands at Deckers – HOKA ONE ONE, Teva, Sanuk about how HOKA aims to empower your future, what makes the brand unique and how the Carbon X is a racing shoe designed to propel all athletes to their own personal best, or whatever their goal may be…
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about the true essence and DNA of the brand?
Wendy Yang: Authenticity, empowerment and inclusivity are some of the core values for HOKA. We are rooted in performance, we empower you to own your future and we do this all together. The brand is passionate about being purposeful. We thoughtfully strive to inspire these same traits in those who wear HOKA – be bold, innovative and fearless!
JD: What makes the brand Hoka unique?
WY: HOKA is a brand for everyone. Our first shoes were designed to make running downhill easier, and were quickly adopted by communities of endurance athletes. We are now seeing HOKA on a wider range of consumers – from the ultrarunner, to the 5k runner, to someone out enjoying a walk. HOKA is a brand that is not afraid to be bold and always stands true to its core beliefs of authenticity, inclusivity and empowerment. Consumers are drawn to this and have a strong advocacy towards our brand. They feel welcomed by us and connected to something bigger when they wear HOKA.
JD: In your words, describe in detail the Carbon X model?
WY: The Carbon X is a racing shoe that embodies the impossibly lightweight, impossibly-cushioned construction pioneered by HOKA. It features a carbon-fiber plate in its midsole and a rubberized EVA compound in the midsole and outsole to create a highly propulsive, highly-responsive ride. Its aggressive Meta-Rocker provides an efficient, propulsive ride for athletes going any speed, and its Active Foot Frame construction is designed to make the shoe remarkably stable for a racing flat.
JD: Who is the demographic for the carbon X
WY: The Carbon X is a racing shoe designed to propel all athletes to their own personal best, or whatever their goal may be. This is a shoe that will meet the needs of our athlete Jim Walmsley, who just set a new World Record at 50 miles in the shoe, but could also propel someone to their first 5K finish, or their first 10-minute mile.
JD: How are you trying to reach Millennial’s and Generation X through marketing?
WY: We think customers will, first and foremost, respond to a brand that believes in something. We believe in empowering a world of athletes to fly over the Earth, and we believe those athletes can be anyone, regardless of where they come from or what it means to them to “fly”. By representing as wide an array of athletes as possible in our marketing, we can ensure athletes of any age, from anywhere, whatever their goals, know that they can fly, too.
JD: Give me 3 adjectives to describe Carbon X?
WY: Impossibly cushioned; carbon-plated; speed machine for everyone?
JD: What has been your greatest achievement since you have been there?
WY: In the same week in April of this year, we had two things happen almost simultaneously: Sophie Hawley-Weld of the band Soffi Tukker was photographed crowdsurfing during her performance at Coachella, and she was wearing the Bondi B, our original max-cushion road shoe we had recently re-issued in a special release. Just after that, our athlete Scott Fauble, who trains with HOKA Northern Arizona Elite, ran a 2:09:10 to finish top American in the Boston Marathon and immediately became a top contender to make the Olympic Marathon team in 2020. For HOKA to have played a role in these two highly-visible events – each representing the pinnacle of their respective spaces, even if those spaces are far apart from each other – speaks volumes to our team’s efforts to maintain its core performance bona-fides while simultaneously growing awareness as a brand.
JD: What is your growth strategy for the next 5 years?
WY: We plan to continue our upward trajectory the same way we have maintained it the previous decade: by creating bold and innovative new product; by managing our distribution and partnerships strategically to maintain influential relationships while starting new ones; and by making shoes for every type of athlete, and making it clear that HOKA can empower them to fly.