What if I were to tell you that the new cool sneaker is an old sneaker that was never cool? Such is the case for Nike Zoom Vomero 5. Don’t let anyone fool you. This shoe has no cachet on the streets, except if we’re talking about its running performance. Yet, it’s gotten co-signs by Drake, LeBron James, and British streetwear brand A Cold Wall, with the latter reintroducing the shoe nearly a decade after it first came out in 2010.
My first experience with the Vomero wasn’t with the fifth model, but rather the fourth. We used to sell it when I worked at Foot Locker and it was billed as Nike’s top-of-the-line shoe in the Bowerman series—named after the brand’s co-founder Bill Bowerman—and marketed to serious runners in an era where Nike Shox dominated the shelf space at footwear retailers. It competed with the likes of the ASICS Kayano and the Mizuno Wave sneakers and was a hard sell to those who thought Nike was more about flash than making a shoe that could tackle miles of pavement.
It was a good shoe, though. The Zoom Air was super responsive and it only got better with the transition to the Vomero 5, which would release a few years later. But we never sold any of them to casual consumers who wanted a new pair of sneakers to wear at their leisure.
Times have changed, and brands have run out of shoes to bring back; it’s boring to see another Air Max 1 or Adidas Superstar. People want something they’ve not as familiar with, even if it means the revival of shoes they never knew existed.
This can be said for recent retros such as the Air Max Deluxe or the EQT Cushion 2. Even the original Mizuno Wave Rider has made a lifestyle comeback through a few well-executed collaborations. People don’t want to keep seeing the same five shoes be the center of a brand’s limited-edition marketing strategy. Although they may sell well at retail, they don’t bring new energy to a company season after season.
We’re also in the midst of the chunky dad shoe trend that leans more toward techy-looking sneakers from the early 2000s than the smooth, hand-drawn shoes of the ’80s. It’s also turned the Air Monarch into a cool shoe, which, no, isn't believed by any respectable person. Call me crazy, but I’m a sucker for simplicity and sneakers that look like sneakers and not spaceships for your feet.
With that said, I’m not 100 percent mad at this trend. There’s something cool in wearing sneakers that no one else owns. I imagine that’s what brands are going for right now when pulling obscure models out of the archive. As my co-host on Full Size Run Brendan Dune said, “It’s cool that we’re at a point where a sneaker from 2010 can be retroed.”
And I agree. It’s just strange to see everyone flock to something that they passed by until someone—I know blogs, like us, are guilty of it—tells them it’s OK to wear. A lot of people need reassurance from other people. That’s how humans have evolved over time. We didn’t just pick random berries off a bush and pop them in our mouths as cavemen unless we knew they wouldn’t make us drop dead on the spot. We needed someone’s co-sign. Or maybe we didn’t. I wasn’t around back then.
The thing about retro is that a shoe had to earn that process. It took six years for Nike to bring back the first Air Jordan retros, and it was only the Air Jordan 1 and Air Jordan III. Lifestyle has become the bulk of the footwear industry, and people aren’t buying as many performance sneakers anymore. This has led to brands needing more and more retro styles. Eventually you run out of shoes to recreate and start scraping the bottom of the barrel.
The obsession with bringing back non-anticipated shoes has even led to Nike bringing back its Shox series last year, and a lot of them went straight to outlets. For anyone keeping score, the overwhelming majority of Shox were never cool, and anyone who yearns for a spring on the heel of their sneaker also wants to see the return of baggy cargo shorts and frayed-brim hats. The Shox TL is coming back in all its full-lengthed Shox glory, and I can fully say that I’m not here for it.
There have been other un-asked-for retros, too, that have been good. The Nike Tailwind 79 wasn’t high on most people’s lists of anticipated sneakers, but it’s a great sneaker. Same can be said for the first-time retro of the Adidas ZX 4000 in late 2018, which was a sleeper choice for one of the most quality shoes of the year.
I’m not saying that brands need to only retro certain sneakers. It would be a boring world if there were only Stan Smiths, Air Force 1s, or Chuck Taylors. That’s why it’s refreshing to see bringbacks such as Nike’s Zoom Alpha or the Adidas Salvation, which just received a special makeup from the folks at Kith.
If you like a shoe, wear it. Nobody can stop you except your bank account and a legion of bots on release day. Just don’t jump on hype trains because someone else told you something was or wasn’t cool, kind of like I’m doing right now.