In November 2013 I reviewed the Lems Nine2Five in “Coffee and Cream” brown leather but noted that the black Nine2Fives wouldn’t be available until 2014. Six months later, here we are, and not only do we have more Lem Nine2Fives in black, but both the black and the brown 925s feature an upgraded leather. I’d heard the new 9to5s might be coming and reached out to Lems to see if they’d send me pairs to share with BirthdayShoes. They kindly obliged.
What do I mean? In short, both the leather colorways got an upgrade as far as materials, and now the Nine2Fives have leveled up. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ve got about 34,000 for you after the jump!
I asked Lems Founder Andrew Rademacher what the story was behind the leather on the Nine2Fives and here’s what he had to say:
Black Nine2Fives — The leather is a 1.6mm full-grain leather that is polished with a clear wax on the last step of production. To maintain the leather or for an even more shiny look it can be polished with any clear wax for an even greater shine.
Coffee & Cream Nine2Fives — The leather is a 1.6mm full-grain pull-up effect leather. The pull-up effect shows the natural coloration of the leather hide and therefore may show a naturally lighter color in the toe area. This leather comes unpolished. It is not recommended to polish this leather to a shine. You may find that a dull conditioner looks best.
Justin here: While I liked the old Coffee & Cream Lems fine, the shinier, new ones are a clear improvement. Whereas my old C&Cs acquired a dusty look to the leather, which just left them looking a little weathered, the new brown Lems maintain a smooth surface and a consistency in color. That color, too, seems more pleasing to my eye, too. Another plus.
If you’re at all familiar with Lems, you know they are zero drop, lightweight shoes that were born out of the minimalist/barefoot shoe movement a few years back. As an office dweller (even if I dwell in a pretty casual Google office!), the Lems Nine2Fives are already well within the rotation of my regular footwear.
Coffee & Cream (Brown) Nine2Five Lems
The change in leather is easy to see for anyone who had v1 of the Nine2Fives in brown. Whereas the old leather took on a ligher color brought by what looks like a “dusting” or cloudiness as they aged, the new leather holds up its shine. (Old vs New)
The Coffee & Cream / Brown Nine2Fives go well with khakis, dark browns, olive greens, jeans of various hues from light to dark (selvage pictured below), and I imagine you could even wear a pair of black chinos with them if you were feeling frisky as the brown has a light enough color to work that way (Maybe?).
Black Nine2Five Lems
While I’ve not had much occasion to date to dress up with my black Nine2Fives, the pictures below should paint a good picture of what to expect — and it’s good to know you can shine them as black shoes should be shiny.
Wore the Black Nine2Fives to a formal event the other day so wanted to update with photos. I was pleasantly surprised at just how well they blended in with my black suit slacks. While the sole isn’t super traditional looking, it’s so … black that it doesn’t matter all that much. And wow, talk about massively more comfortable than typical dress shoes!
Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad based in Atlanta where he works for MURAL in marketing. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.