Barefoot Shoes

Lems Nine2Fives in Black (and Updated Leather)

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 b…

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!

That Leather

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?). The Shoes: Wearing them:

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.

Wearing them

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!

Get’em while you can.

Both colorways of Nine2Five are priced at $125 and you can find them here: Brown / Coffee & Cream and Black. As for sizing, you can eliminate ambiguity using Lems’ new sizing chart (print this PDF and follow the instructions). Finallly, I’d like to point out that the photos on Lems’ website appear to be of the old leather. That is, if the leather looks more matte, it’s version 1.0. And if you want to circle back, go read my full review of the Nine2Fives here.

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

6 replies on “Lems Nine2Fives in Black (and Updated Leather)”

Any idea or opinions on how this would look with dress pants, a button down and a sport coat? My minimalist shoe-nicorn is Mountain Chen’s Primal Professional, but the long wait and high price always make me balk a little at first. I’m a little leery about the tag and the chunky-looking sole on this one, which is frustrating because the black leather + shiny upper looks really great otherwise.


I’d guess it depends on the dress pant. Chinos are a slam dunk IMO, but dress slacks have a different look to them. I think the black could still pass though I need to test them that way.

Any chance you could post a photo of the black ones with black dress pants?

My husband is looking for some barefoot shoes to serve him well in his corporate pilot career. They don’t have to be wholly conference room perfect, but they DO have to give a solidly professional, put-together appearance.

I just got into minimal shoes, I exercise with some VFF Bikila Evo, and hope to expand my shoes to mostly minimal.

I just bought a black pair of Nine2Fives, they feel great. I will order some brown ones in the next couple of weeks. I was wondering if Dr. Marten’s Wonder Balsam could shine up the brown ones. I am in an office setting and mostly wear a shirt and tie, and occasionally a suit. That being said, I need to put a pretty decent shine on my shoes, any recommendations for this?

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