Nov 02, 2023
by Karl Smith
Nicole McLaughlin’s Hybrid HOKA Breathes New Life Into Deadstock
by Karl Smith
Nov 02, 2023

Having collaborated with Vans earlier this year on a gardening-themed slip-on and previously linked with the likes of Arc’teryx to offer her much-celebrated upcycling skills, designer Nicole McLaughlin has now put her stamp on another brand.

Working with California trail shoe outfit HOKA, McLaughlin was called upon to rework the much-anticipated MAFATE THREE2 runner – creating an alternate version, even before that shoe itself had been released.

What appeared at first to be a laceless version of the runner – which, interestingly, is already a hybrid of the MAFATE 2 and the MAFATE 3 – is actually an iteration with tech-savvy and trek-ready additions, rather than feature removals. But, in a move that one might reasonably call “The McLaughlin” by this point, the laces aren’t actually gone – instead, they’ve been covered by a gaiter piece, effectively adding an extra functional element to the already performance-focused footwear.

“Multi-functionality is a part of sustainability I don’t think that’s talked about enough. Multiple ways to wear something or creating two shoes in one, would – in theory, hopefully – help us buy less!” – Nicole McLaughlin

Revamping the MAFATE 2 and MAFATE 3, the regular version of the creatively-named MAFATE THREE2 comprises a Mafate Origins upper and a Mafate Speed 2 midsole, both of which sit neatly atop of a Vibram MegaGrip outsole.

McLaughlin’s version, however, also comes with what HOKA describes as “a full-coverage, four-in-one gaiter system, finished with five utility pockets and co-branded labels,” further noting that, “this street-ready spinoff features a cinched entry and Velcro heel spike.”

What HOKA inexplicably fails to mention, however, are the origins of the McLaughlin’s gaiter.

Created from deadstock and end-of-roll materials, the cover and its various accents and accessories are 82% recycled. With so few extra materials produced to create the bonus iteration of the silhouette, making it an Earth-friendlier way to add a little something extra, you’d think that would be worth talking about.

Maybe, with McLaughlin onboard, HOKA just assumed this was par for the course – that anyone who cared enough to know McLaughlin’s work would know how she prioritizes sustainability in her work. But we think these kinds of details are worth celebrating.

“The gaiter and upper were an exercise in using dead stock and end-of-roll materials. It ended up being 82% recycled, though there are quite a few components of the shoe – such as laces, pull tabs, and velcro – that are actually fully recycled.” – Nicole McLaughlin

Arriving in an impossible-to-ignore colorway combination of bright red, bright yellow, and black, McLaughlin’s MAFATE THREE2 is – like so much of her work – a testament to the difference made by small, well-considered modifications, adding extra utility to a shoe that’s designed to be worn in exactly the kinds of places and exactly the kinds of scenarios wherein you might need to store some pretty vital supplies. Matching that optimized, performance mindset with a parallel care for the planet, too, is something seen far too little in the footwear industry.

Perhaps, then, that’s why this collaboration stands out: not just as a one-off, but as a signpost for HOKA moving forward. What McLaughlin has provided the brand is not just a limited edition rework of an already-limited new silhouette, but also a method by which to better and more responsibly use its materials going forward.

“My goal with this project was mostly to help HOKA figure out a gaiter system that has potential beyond this collaboration – a way to use up future end-of-roll materials for a functional addition to an existing shoe.” – Nicole McLaughlin

The MAFATE THREE2 is out now, available from selected retailers like END., with a $185 USD RRP, while the Nicole McLaughlin edit releases November 3rd, priced at $254.99 USD.