Seoul-Based Streetwear Meets Mountain Tech in the HOKA x thisisneverthat Collaboration

The first partnership between the purveyors of performance footwear at HOKA ONE ONE and the avant-garde South Korean streetwear brand thisisneverthat is a surprisingly clean collection of technical footwear, sportswear, and accessories in black, white, and HOKA’s signature cyan blue.

thisisneverthat never shies away from boldness. A mere decade ago, the brand had accrued a small cult following among K-pop stars and Korean rappers. But heavy graphics and a playful yet disruptive visual language have brought the brand from Seoul’s art scene to worldwide fanfare. Last season’s collaboration with Pokémon, for example, featured large images and certain style elements the brand is known for, like breaking a single name into surprising pieces and scattering them across a garment. This season, they have released outerwear with an enormous GORE-TEX logo printed all the way around the coat. thisisneverthat has long used technical fabrics for their casual utility, and they have worked with brands like New Balance and G-SHOCK to create highly coveted sportswear pieces, but those always tapped into a vintage aesthetic. This collaboration marks their first collection geared towards performance.

HOKA ONE ONE is an aesthetic and technical disruptor in its own right. Famous for plush comfort and off-road prowess, their unmistakable thick foam soles are ubiquitous on city streets and hiking trails. But there is more to the sole than the bulky aesthetic. HOKA says, in most athletic shoes, the wearer runs on top of the sole. HOKA reimagines that completely, seating the foot within the molded foam like an F1 driver in a racecar. Having won numerous awards in the performance sector, the brand has further enhanced its credibility by working with time-tested companies like the waterproofing pioneers at GORE-TEX and the Italian sole masters at Vibram. But it is largely the brand’s brazen silhouettes that have caught the eyes of the fashion world, courting collaborations with Opening Ceremony and Engineered Garments in previous years.

A trail runner known for tearing up rough terrain, the HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4 headlines the HOKA x thisisneverthat collaboration. This Speedgoat 4 strips away the clashing colors and brash branding of the in-line Speedgoat in favor of a warm-white “Marshmallow” colorway with hits of HOKA’s signature cyan blue on the laces, the HOKA logo, and the co-branded tag. The monochromatic white emphasizes the shoe’s structural elements like the EVA midsole shaped to look almost like a vent on a racecar. Most of the Vibram outsole is an icy blue providing an interesting but subtle contrast with the rest of the shoe. There is still something subversive, playful about a clean white trail runner, originally designed to churn trails, not turn heads. The shoe can handle the elements – at the wearer’s discretion.

The rest of the collaboration maintains the clean look with black and white bases and cyan detailing on a limited collection of sportswear and accessories. The pullover and bucket hat feature summer-weight fabrics for protection from the wind and sun, while the t-shirt and shorts are made for all-round warm-weather wear.

More and more, people are looking for the comfort, wearability, and weather-protection of performance footwear and clothing in their casual wear. The HOKA x thisisneverthat collaboration shares a collective vision of what that can mean this spring.