VivoBarefoot has been in the business of making minimalist, “barefoot shoes” for a long, long time. Looking back, I first reviewed Vivo Barefoot Aquas on BirthdayShoes seven years ago—this was back when they were Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot. What a…
VivoBarefoot has been in the business of making minimalist, “barefoot shoes” for a long, long time. Looking back, I first reviewed Vivo Barefoot Aquas on BirthdayShoes seven years ago—this was back when they were Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot. What a mouthful. Many, many Vivo Barefoot reviews later, today I’ll be reviewing the VivoBarefoot Primus Lux.
The Primus Lux, which should exist right here on the VivoBareofot website (it ishere for women), is one of the growing “Primus” line at VivoBarefoot. The VivoBarefoot Primus line is marketed as being “built around the concept, less is more. Less shoe, less weight – more freedom to move. We had a vision for the lightest movement shoe possible; a shoe that followed the natural shape of the foot and had the least possible interference with human movement.”
To date, there are trail shoes, exercise shoes, and the “luxury” shoe shown here. Having had mine for about 3-4 months (Thanks, Vivo!), I’ve spent enough time in them to give them a proper review. The short of it? I really like these guys. For more, you know what to do …
We designed the Primus Lux to be our simplest premium shoe. We’ve taken man’s oldest material, natural leather, which remains unsurpassed by any other material for durability, and used the latest laser cutting techniques, to create a shoe that’s built to last, produced with minimal waste and designed to feel amazing.
The full grain leather is completely unlined, making it much lighter and leaner than most leather footwear. A laser cut 3-piece upper is stitched to the on-road sole (not glued) to form a smooth casing around the foot. Laser perforations to the upper minimise weight and increase breathability.
Take a spin around the Primus Lux (in natural) via these photos:
If you’re talking about a “luxury” shoe with quality materials, it better look good.
Right out of the box, I immediately took to the Primus Lux. The leather is supple and exudes high quality—in fact, it’s Pittards Wild Hide, which is a leather brand used by high-end products like golf gloves and shoes. As you read about above in Vivo’s description, this shoe is dead simple: it’s leather upper and insole, all stitched, and a rubber outsole. It’s got laser cutouts that keep the shoe breathable. Other design aspects include a few of the VivoBarefoot hexagonal Vs, but as those things go, they are pretty subtle—tasteful.
Design-wise, I appreciate the Primus styling where the side panels of the shoe are brought all the way to the front of the toe box, with the slightly larger cutout by the big toe. It breaks up the overall width and flatness of the toebox and makes the shoes look narrower than they are (a.k.a. less like duck feet). Contrast the Primus Lux to the VivoBarefoot Ra, which is just flat at the front, and you can get a sense of the difference this design quality makes.
All in all, these are some of the best looking VivoBarefoots that fit squarely in that dressy sneaker look. They’re obviously not dress shoes but they’re also not exercise shoes. If there was one knock against them, I almost wish they had a little more color to them—either a bit darker shade of tan or brown. I don’t know, something. Yet I still like the “natural.”
As for the all-important spouse-test, the Primus Lux passes with flying colors—Mrs. BirthdayShoes likes the look of the Primus Lux.
And if you can’t tell, I do, too.
While this bleeds into the aesthetics of the Primus Lux, I feel the build requires special attention. In addition to the high-quality material (Pittards leather), the Lux does something else that sets it apart from most of Vivo’s prior shoe offerings.
For the longest time VivoBarefoot shoes would have a removable (albeit minimalist and with no arch support) foam insole. If you wanted a more barefoot feel, you could then take out the insole. However, the remaining footbed would have all these exposed stitches. “>This photo from my Gobi review is exactly what I’m talking about. In other words, wearing Vivos sans insole wasn’t a great experience.
Contrast that with the Primus Lux—which lacks a removable insole or even a non-removable foam insole. Nearest I can tell, the Lux is just a thin layer of leather directly attached to the Vivo rubber outsole with no exposed stitches whatsoever. Just look at it:
This makes a huge difference in the way the build quality of the shoes feels. If you wear the Lux without socks, your feet feel nothing but super smooth leather—both on the footbed and on the upper, which is unlined.
One thing I’d point out is that unlike what the above Lux description says very clearly, the rubber outsole does not seem to be stitched to the uppers. Glue seems to be involved. So far, that’s worked almost flawlessly. I see a tiny bit of separation (around a centimeter) on one shoe. Not enough to bother me. My most favorite pair of suede VivoBarefoot Oaks also have glued soles that came a bit undone years ago in a much more obvious way but it doesn’t really bother me and I still wear those Oaks regularly (for me, every other week or so). If the glue problem ever gets worse I’ll update this review.
All of this leads to the barefoot-ness of these shoes.
How barefoot are the Primus Lux? The lack of any foam insole and the leather on rubber combo makes the Lux very minimally soled. If you’re used to wearing even lightly padded shoes—e.g. VivoBarefoots with the foam insole—you’ll find that the Lux offer an almost harsh ride. Worn with a pair of socks, though, and you’ve got a pretty smooth combo.
The Primus Lux is definitely one of the more barefoot-feeling shoes out there. It’s not quite as barefoot as your most typical FiveFingers due to Vivo’s outsole being a bit harder as far as rubber goes. However, if you’re looking for a good-looking, everyday wearing barefoot shoe, the Lux is worth considering.
I wear the Lux mostly sockless, so the foot on leather is pretty great. Sometimes I wish the leather insole was a suede instead of a smooth leather (perhaps personal preference as I’ve felt this way about other shoes and sandals), but if you’re going to have supple, smooth leather, hard to go wrong with the Pittards.
I wear a size 11 in the Primus Lux, which corresponds to a 44 or so in European sizing. I’m a size 43 in FiveFingers and a 10.5 usually. I probably could go down a half-size in the Lux, but the 11s seem just fine worn barefoot or with socks.
Of note, Vivo narrowed its last probably three or four years ago. While this has never been a problem for me and their last is still atypically wide relative to regular shoes, this could be an issue if you have notably wide feet (I don’t). Also, I’ve heard some folks who have higher insteps (think: the middle of your foot is thicker) can run into some fit issues with many of Vivo’s flatter-fronted shoes. Again, this is not a problem I have (and even struggle to relate to).
I like the Primus Lux. A lot. Truth be told I saw some Primus Lux marketing and was immediately reaching out to Vivo for a pair to review. That initial impression was backed up on receiving the Lux and I’ve enjoyed wearing them for this review.
That said, the Primus Lux isn’t cheap at about $150. And that’s if you can find them!