- With brands increasingly pursuing DTC-led strategies, performance running brand Hoka One One is opening its first-ever retail locations, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
- The brick-and-mortar test consists of two pop-ups, one in the Flatiron District of New York City and one on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, which will both be open through December this year.
- Deckers-owned Hoka said the store openings are "an important next step for both sales and branding purposes," noting that net sales at the brand grew 95% to $213.1 million in the most recent quarter.
Hoka is ready for its next phase of growth.
The buzzy running brand is gaining more influence in the performance community, according to Deckers CEO Dave Powers, which is helping to lift the footwear company to a "more balanced business." The Hoka pop-ups are aimed at expanding upon that influence by giving new customers the chance to learn about the brand and "embrace its benefits" before purchase.
"While we've had incredible growth and momentum, Hoka still has relatively low awareness," Norma Delaney, vice president of global brand marketing at Hoka One One, said in a statement. "Most consumers know Hoka as a performance running brand, which we are at our core. These two pop-up stores will allow us to show the full breadth of our line, footwear and apparel."
Like many retail spaces, Hoka's pop-ups are embracing functions outside of the transactional. The stores offer 3D foot-scanning devices to provide information into fit and comfort and to give personalized recommendations on footwear styles. Smart lockers will be available at the locations, as will apparel previously only sold on Hoka's website.
The brand is taking a page from other athletic companies and looking to build community at its pop-ups through "experiential programming" and other efforts. In the athletic space, in particular, brands have taken to offering workout classes, wellness services, equipment repair, local events and runs, and even educational workshops and discussions to build loyalty with shoppers.
"We know that post-COVID, consumers crave in-person experiences," Delaney said. "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."
The DTC athletics market has been on fire lately, with running brand On filing for an IPO last week, activewear brand Sweaty Betty getting acquired by Wolverine World Wide in August and Allbirds planning for a deeper performance offering as part of its own go-public strategy. At the same time, traditional players like Nike and Adidas are adopting a more DTC-reliant model, or in the case of Wilson, opening their first-ever stores to begin targeting consumers directly.