Running brand Hoka One One will open its first two brand stores Wednesday in New York City and West Hollywood, Calif.
Citing Hoka president Wendy Yang, CNBC reported that the brand had signed “shorter-term” leases on both shops, but will likely look to extend the agreements. The locations will offer 3D foot-scanning devices, as well as lockers for customers to stash their things as they take potential purchases for a test run around the surrounding area, CNBC said.
“We want to learn more directly from the consumer…about what they like, what they want and how their decision process works, in a one-on-one way,” Yang told CNBC. “The biggest thing is creating a conversation with consumers in-person and letting them experience the benefits [of Hoka] before purchasing.”
The brick-and-mortar openings come amid a continuing boom in running sales. According to the NPD Group, performance running sales grew in the low teens in the first quarter compared to two years ago. In the second quarter and the first half of the back-to-school season, sales were up about one-third versus last year.
Running specialty brands like Hoka have flourished to an even greater extent. The Deckers brand saw net sales jump 95.5 percent to $213.1 million in the quarter ended June 30—just enough for it to edge past Ugg to become the company’s top-selling division. When the Swiss brand On Running pulled the trigger on its proposed $100 million initial public offering last week, it revealed that it had pulled in net sales of $344 million during the first half of the year—an 84.6 percent leap over the prior-year period. Global revenue at Brooks Running, meanwhile, “grew at a record pace” in the second quarter, climbing 75 percent over last year.
The Hoka store debuts also arrive as brands continue to zero in on their direct-to-consumer business. While this has typically involved an increased focus on e-commerce, it has also included several brand store openings. Months after telling six retailers—including DSW and Urban Outfitters—it would no longer sell them product, Nike opened its second Rise store this month in Seoul. On Running debuted its first physical store in December, just a mile from Hoka’s New York City location. A month earlier and a couple miles away, fellow Deckers brand Ugg opened its first flagship location in New York City.