As the longest-running (and most popular) shoe in the HOKA lineup, the Bondi 8 update was no small feat (pun intended). Our max cushioned ride went through a 2+ year makeover, so we sat down with Product Line Manager Zack Paris to learn more about how the best got even better.
HOKA: Introduce yourself! What do you do for HOKA, and how long have you been with the brand? What does your day-to-day look like?
Zack: Hi everyone, my name is Zack Paris and I am a Product Line Manager (PLM) with HOKA. It seems like just yesterday I joined the brand, but sometimes you blink and realize it has already been 8 years! In Bondi-Years, we were still on the Bondi 2 and just about to launch the Bondi 3 when I started with HOKA.
PLMs help to plan out when and how products update (or start anew), and then work with a team of designers and developers to bring it to life.
My days are so varied because they are based on how far along in the process we are. Some days are spent behind a screen, planning or reviewing design revisions, or gathering feedback from across the globe. Others are spent out talking and listening to runners. My favorite days are when we get to lace up some shoes and compare them head-to-head. Safe to say, every day is filled with shoes
HOKA: What goes into updating a shoe with such legacy as the Bondi series? How long does the process take? Was consumer feedback involved in the updates?
Zack: So much pressure! When I worked in a running store the very first HOKA I sold was a Bondi, and I still remember watching the woman’s face light up as she tried them on. There is so much love for the Bondi out there, so it’s a big challenge to make sure an update not only lives up to the previous version, but can also surprise the fans and make them excited to lace the shoes up again tomorrow.
We started working on the Bondi 8 roughly two years ago. We gathered feedback from runners and walkers on everything from colors and width options to ride experience and durability. We then take that feedback and combine it with our internal testing to start targeting areas to improve.
Take the midsole grooves in the heel for example: the Bondi 7 users were primarily runner and walkers that heel strike, and they rate the cushioning as one of the most important parts of the Bondi ride. We have some newer models like the Bondi X that featured extended landing zones and parallel grooves in the heel (they almost look like the bellows and grooves of an accordion). These models had been getting great responses for heel cushioning, and we saw increasing the depth of these grooves on the Bondi 8 as a way to make the heel landing even softer.
HOKA: Tell us about the Bondi 8! What are the key differences between the 7 and the 8?
Zack: So much of what Bondi fans love about the 7 is still in the 8. The stack heights and smooth ride remain the same, and it will still provide that all-day comfort. Where you’ll see the major differences comes in the heel fit and the cushioning under foot. The heel uses a more precise foam package which should give you a more dialed-in fit, and the changes to the grooves around the landing zone (and even softer foam!) make for a truly “cushioned to the max” experience.
We’ve also been working hard to use more sustainable materials in every model in our line. The Bondi 8 has recycled materials in many elements of the upper: from the mesh, to the tongue, the sockliner, and many more small pieces.
HOKA: What are you most proud of in the Bondi 8?
Zack: The Bondi 8 is just so easy to love. From my first step into the shoe and every step afterwards, it has a smooth, supportive, and soft feel. I rely on it each day I go for a run, and I know the cushioning will be there if I decide to lace it up again the next day.
HOKA: Who is the Bondi 8 for?
Zack: Over the 12+ years of this series, the Bondi has gained a lot of fans! Much like previous versions, the Bondi 8 is for anyone looking for max comfort. Runners and walkers both love the Bondi for it’s ample cushioning, smooth rocker, and wide, stable base. It’s for everyone – #FlyHumanFly!
Shop the Bondi 8 HERE.