Zoom Vomero 5

Nike’s nostalgic lifestyle runner gets a modern redesign.

Nike Zoom Vomero 5
© Nike

 A reliable running shoe

When Nike launched the first Vomero model in 2006, it was built to be a running shoe that could comfortably be worn over long distances. In just a few short years, the Vomero line had become well-established and was seen as a reliable option for all kinds of runners. Each new iteration arrived with updated features, and 2011’s Zoom Vomero +5 was the first to contain dual Zoom Air units in its midsole, one of which was in the forefoot while the other supported the heel. These served to distribute the weight of the wearer, and, surrounded by a filling of soft Cushlon foam, made the Vomero 5 comfortable, responsive and lightweight at a mere 328 grams. Its midfoot had also been reshaped to help certain types of runners, and it could even be used to track a range of health data using Nike+ technology. The Zoom Vomero +5 was a successful shoe in its time, but, like others in the series, it was slowly replaced by subsequent models. However, the Zoom Vomero 5 stood the test of time, returning many years later thanks to a remarkable collaboration and an unexpected fashion trend, but ultimately because of its compelling blend of style and performance.

© Nike

An influential fashion designer

By 2018, the Vomero line was on its 14th running shoe, but not everyone had forgotten the Zoom Vomero 5. One of those who fondly remembered the 2011 edition was British fashion designer and artist Samuel Ross. Despite his youth, Ross had already developed an impressive resume as he had interned for the generational talent that was Virgil Abloh, becoming his first design assistant in 2012 and, through him, working on projects with Kanye West. After several years learning from Abloh and his creative partners, Ross set up his own luxury sportswear brand, A-COLD-WALL*, in 2014, when still only in his mid-20s. In the years that followed, he had an instant impact on the fashion industry, becoming a multi-award-winning designer and developing a reputation for creating innovative apparel and other wearables. In time, he was sought out by Nike, the brand keen to learn from his forward-thinking creativity. They began working together in 2017, first making a stripped back version of the Air Force 1 that refined the look of the original model while also respecting its key elements. Just one year later, following the success of their first collaboration, the two joined forces again, but this time, rather than choosing one of Nike’s all-time icons, Ross decided to go for a much more understated option: the Zoom Vomero 5.


Balancing function and form

Ross’ selection was based on the fact that he saw the era of the original Vomero 5 as a time when new innovations were displayed on a shoe’s outer. This gave him the opportunity to manipulate these external components in a way that humanized the design and exalted its technology. He spent many months perfecting his own version of the 2011 silhouette, moving from a starting point of mere trigger words, through sketches and prototypes to the final product. For Ross, the shoe’s color and texture were just as important as its function, and, to ensure it had the correct balance of utility and form, he spent 18 months composing its tonal makeup and the specific materials it would be made from.

Radical additions

The completed Nike x A-COLD-WALL* Zoom Vomero 5 retained the technical components of the original but had an overall look informed by Ross’ interest in industrial and brutalist architecture. Alongside many classic features, he added his own unique touches, such as a heat-sensitive Japanese nylon that he used as the base layer of the upper. One of his more radical additions was the large sculptural heel piece, which pushed the boundaries of the collaboration and split the opinion of the fans. While many loved the offbeat artistic flair of the eccentric structure, others felt the opposite, some even going so far as to remove it from the shoe entirely.


Humanizing the Vomero 5

Ross’ intentions with the A-COLD-WALL* Zoom Vomero 5 went beyond mere aesthetics, though; he also wanted to entice the wearer to consider and appreciate the particular materials of the shoe, not simply the product as a whole. He did so by foregoing the application of the PU and UV surface treatments that would normally be used to protect the plastic and rubber parts of the outer from discoloration and aging. This removed the barrier between the shoe and the environmental phenomena that might affect it, somehow humanizing it by allowing the outer to discolor and age naturally over time. Ross believed that this would make the wearer the protagonist of the shoe’s story as their behaviors and actions affected its aging process and thus its aesthetic development. In this way, each pair of Zoom Vomero 5s would evolve organically and acquire its own distinctive character intimately connected to the wearer’s life. Going on such a journey with the shoe would give the owner an appreciation of how our everyday clothes decay as we wear them, thus highlighting the need for the things we consume to be more connected to the world’s natural processes so as not to have such a negative effect on the environment.



Ross positioned his Vomero 5 at the center of a larger ACW* apparel collection entitled HUMAN.FORM.STRUCTURE, which focused on themes of exposure and the transformation of physical objects over time as the starting point for a deeper consideration of aging and individualisation. Amongst the collection were two collaborative colorways: the Onyx, which was a sleek all-black edition with a glossy swoosh, and the Clay, whose white and Sail outer contrasted with its brown inner. Both were decorated with sophisticated branding effects, including an ACW* motif on the lateral toe, mismatched dual logos debossed lightly into the heel piece and white text printed onto the insole that read “A-COLD-WALL* Presented By Samuel Ross”. 


An exploration of color

The success of these first Nike x A-COLD-WALL* Vomero 5s led the brands to create two more colorways in 2019. Though the basic design was the same as the 2018 shoes, Ross innovated once again, this time using the silhouette to explore the nature of color. To do this, the ACW* Industrial Design Team worked with specialist dye facilities in the UK and Italy to produce customized color palettes. Technicians then completed the handcrafted treatment by dipping each shoe into a vat of the dye before applying a polyurethane lamination to certain elements that would cause variations in color density across the outer. The resulting designs displayed a powerful tonal intensity and an astounding depth of color, giving the Nike Vomero 5 a whole new level of complexity and style. Thanks to this technique, individual pairs had their own unique finish as the dye came out differently on each shoe, meaning that no two were exactly alike. 


Bold colorways

One of the designs that emerged from this process was the Solarised colorway – a sneaker with a bold tonal pattern of industrial hues, such as rust, clay, ivory and copper, that reflected well-known ACW* themes of metals and minerals. The other one was known as Redox and featured a much more vibrant color scheme of crimson, vermillion and soft pink. On the brand’s website, both were presented alongside architectural images that showed the roots of Ross’ design influences. A third colorway also appeared there, this one in House Blue and exhibiting a fresh manifestation of this signature ACW* tone. Unfortunately for fans of the series, this shoe was never released and, for now, remains a mere prototype in Ross’ extensive back catalog.


A general release

The Nike x A-COLD-WALL* Zoom Vomero 5 catapulted the heritage runner to the forefront of style and fashion, proving that it could achieve modern-day success, and Nike soon began working on a general release of the sneaker. This came in 2019 with two monochrome editions that were soon followed by several colorways with more vivid tones, such as Racer Blue and Electric Green, and a Bright Crimson version that dropped in 2020. These returned to the original design framework, turning out to be incredibly popular after the hype that had surrounded the ACW* collaboration. Their fame was also boosted by an appearance from influential Canadian rapper Drake, who unexpectedly showed up to the Paris leg of his 2019 Assassination Vacation Tour in a customized black pair with striking orange red accents.

The second comeback

After this, things went quiet for the Vomero 5, leaving fans to wonder if its return was just a temporary one. This time, though, the wait was far shorter as the silhouette returned with the Oatmeal and Cobblestone colorways in 2022. Both had the eclectic look of the original, with a range of materials creating dynamic patterns across the upper. Mesh textiles through the forefoot, the ankle and the gusseted tongue made the whole shoe extremely breathable, synthetic leather and suede gave it a premium feel, and barred accents down the flanks lent it a futuristic but sporty appearance. A supportive TPU cage fashioned into a honeycomb pattern provided structure around the heel, while more TPU bands on the underneath supported the arch of the foot. For added sheen, 3M reflective highlights were spread across the upper, and the insoles carried an homage to Nike’s co-founder Bill Bowerman via a vintage print of the legendary shoe designer. Bowerman’s waffle tread design also made an appearance on the lightweight rubber outsole, delivering excellent traction without adding excess bulk and honoring the running heritage of Nike and the Vomero line.

© Nike

A stunning range of designs

These sneakers marked a true cultural resurgence for the Nike Zoom Vomero 5 as they came ahead of a slew of new colorways in 2023. By the end of that year, the silhouette had become a beloved fan favorite amongst both the running community and casual wearers, with a variety of designs that could cater to almost any preference. Some, like the Supersonic, the Wolf Grey and the Photon Dust, came in stylish neutrals, while others, such as the Olive Flak, were decorated with vivid hues. Another Vomero 5 nicknamed Timeless incorporated features of the Nike Dunk into its hybrid design, but perhaps the most eye-catching colorway of all those released in 2023 was the Doernbecher Vomero 5 designed by Jaren Heacock. A patient at the renowned children's hospital in Portland, with which Nike has been collaborating since 2004, Jaren covered his shoe in striking shades of yellow, orange and red while also giving it a Velcro upper that could be customized using the collection of interchangeable patches supplied with it.

© Nike

Good timing

By 2024, it was clear that the Vomero 5 was well and truly back as Nike continued to release more and more colorways of its revived icon. This renewed success was partly due to Samuel Ross’ artistic collaboration, but it was also a result of good timing. The early 2020s was a time when old-school sneakers had come into fashion, with members of Generation Z in particular developing an affinity for nostalgic clothing. Although it was just over a decade old, the Vomero 5’s throwback sporting style, which evoked a 90s aesthetic, perfectly matched this trend. Its performance technology was also contemporary enough to be comfortable and supportive, both as a lifestyle sneaker and as a running trainer. In fact, it was widely lauded for this, with some sneaker enthusiasts hailing it as the most comfortable of all Nike designs.

© Nike

An incredible journey

From starting out as a reliable running sneaker to becoming a sought after fashion item, the Vomero 5 has been on a remarkable journey. Fans of the original might have assumed that they would never see it return, but its captivating aesthetic drew the attention of one of the great designers of his time to thrust it back into the limelight. Not content with making just one comeback, the classic runner returned yet again thanks to its nostalgic styling and its dependable performance features. Today, the rejuvenated Zoom Vomero 5 remains as popular as ever and has fully established itself as a staple of Nike’s vast catalog of iconic silhouettes.

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