Think big: fat skis, fat bikes. In the midst of peak minimalist footwear—recall the proliferation of the five-toe shoe midway through the 2010s—outdoor sports industry veterans Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard thought big when they brought size back to running in 2009 with the release of the Hoka One One Mafate. Though initially marketed towards ultrarunners, who participate in a class of more-than-marathon length races that, in their most extreme form, can extend over one hundred kilometres and take several days to complete, word of mouth quickly brought demand from all flavors of runner. Mermoud and Diard’s obsession with downhill adventure had paid off; their innovative mating of chubby rocker outsoles composed of ultralight dual density foam, bucket insoles that eliminated the need for structural uppers, and mesmerizingly vivid colorways offered an equipment/apparel hybrid that floated across terrains smooth and coarse alike. Later, immediately-coveted collaborations with Engineered Garments and Opening Ceremony brought attention from outside the running world, to the extent that today, Hoka One One is a poorly-kept secret resolution to the stubborn dichotomy of comfort and fashion.
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