The Clifton model is arguably our most popular series, first launching back in 2014. Since then, Senior Product Line Manager Zack Paris has worked on updating each version, bringing us to the all-new Clifton 8 today. We sat down with Zack to hear about what goes into the shoe updating process, what changes were made from Clifton 7 to Clifton 8, and more.

HOKA: Introduce yourself! How did you end up working for HOKA, and what do you do now? What does your day-to-day look like?

Hi! My name is Zack, and I am a Senior Product Line Manager (PLM) here at HOKA.

I first joined the team in 2014 as a Field Experience Representative. One of the reasons I vividly remember my first day on the job is because it was actually the first time I had a pair of Cliftons on my feet! On my first day of training I was able to test ride a pair of the first Clifton prototypes. That was the instant I knew HOKA really had something special going.

After a couple years, I moved into the product team, and now get to help bring some of those otherworldly experiences to life! A PLM pores over product feedback, test reports, running industry reports, sales data, market research (everything we can get our hands on, really) to identify opportunities for new shoes and updates to existing models. We also speak to athletes throughout the process. We try to articulate the overarching goals for a designer and developer to focus on for the project, and make sure we are all aiming for that consistent target as the shoe gets developed.

As the shoe is in the design and development process, we coordinate with the Marketing team to help them communicate the features and benefits of the shoe, and then start to work on future projects before the first one is even released. Every day in the process feels different, and it’s such a blast to collaborate with designers and developers on each new project.

HOKA: What goes into updating a model as well-liked as the Clifton series? How long does the process take?

The Clifton is such a fun model to work on because it has so many passionate fans. We will typically start the gathering the feedback and data on previous models around 18 months before the introduction date. After reviewing feedback, we begin to evaluate every element of the shoe, from the type of foam being used to the composition of the laces, and begin deciding how we can improve the overall experience for the next generation of runners. Then, through multiple prototype rounds, we test and refine the shoe, finalize colors and get it ready to be introduced to the world.

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HOKA: Tell us about the Clifton 8 (weight, stack height, new updates, etc.)

When we designed the Clifton 8 we were focused on finding that balance of enhanced cushioning and minimal weight: we want athletes to be excited to slip the shoes on and head out the door for a run. I think the updates in the Clifton 8 keep that balance beautifully. A new, lighter-weight foam lightens the feel underfoot, and that’s complemented by even more comfort on top with a softer upper and tongue construction. The ride is as smooth as ever, and the stack height and Meta-Rocker geometry are similar to previous versions. The outsole even has a little more rubber coverage, designed to provide better durability over many miles on the road. All combined, it still comes in at a remarkably light weight of 7.6 ounces for a women’s size 7.

HOKA: Who is the shoe for?

One of my favorite things about the Clifton is the variety of people who use it, wear it, and love it. We see our fastest elite athletes logging training miles in the Clifton, and it’s a standby for runners training for their first 5K. I’ve even seen nurses and doctors using the Clifton to get through a 12-hour shift. It’s a great shoe for everyone from, first-timers to champions like Aliphine Tuliamuk.

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Shop the Clifton 8 HERE.