Monthly Archives: October 2013

Lems Shoes Sweet Jane Review

High quality leather meets adorable styling
I’m not much of a fashionista and I prefer my footwear functional over fashionable but when the Lems Shoes Sweet Janes arrived, my first thought was how amazing they look! I have lamented in the past about how few attractive, truly minimalist footwear options there are for women but now there are the Sweet Janes to brighten our closets and cute outfits. These not only look great but are also made of a thick but pliable, high quality leather ensuring a long-lasting durability.

Quick Details
Price: $95.00 USD
Width: Average to Extra Wide
Sole Thickness: 9.0 mm
Drop: 0 mm
Weight: 5 5/8 ounces or 160 grams (size 39)
Insole: Removable; 5/8 ounces or 18 grams
Sizing: 36–43; sizes only; Check Lems Shoes website for sizing
Category: Women-specific Casual

Comfort & Fit
The Sweet Janes are one of those shoes that get more comfortable the longer you wear them. Although I found them comfortable right out of the box, I have noticed that the leather has softened a bit in the heel and the toe box making them even more form-fitting. On my first walk in them, I noticed that the heel felt a bit high against my ankle bones but the more I wore them, the less I felt it. Another aspect of this shoe I noticed is that the warmer they became, the more pliable the leather felt. They do feel a bit stiff in cooler temperatures but as the leather warms from the heat of my feet, it’s like they feel no longer there.

These shoes are wonderfully wide in the toe box and accommodate my wide feet well. The midfoot strap and Velcro attachment allow a customizable fit across the top of the foot. This shoe will work well for average to extra wide feet but narrow feet might feel a bit swimmy in them.

Most of the inside of the shoe is lined with a moisture-wicking polyester that feels super soft and helps to keep sockless feet dry and protected. With extremely sensitive skin, I often get blisters on the tops of my toes from enclosed shoes but the lining of the Sweet Janes felt luxuriously soft for every sockless walk.

The heel of the inside of the shoe is lined with suede rather than polyester. I think that the change in material allows the heel to have a little better grip on the skin and keeps the heel of the shoe from slipping while walking. It does feel well attached to my heel despite only the single strap across the top of the foot. My only suggestion for improvement of this shoe is to wrap leather around the edge of heel somehow rather than have the joining seam between the inside and outside of the shoe at the heel. Although I did not experience any blistering of my heels in the Sweet Janes, in colder temperatures when the leather is stiffer, and for individuals whose heels might not fit the shape of the shoe exactly, I can see how this joint may feel sharp and cause a rubbing hot spot or blister. If this is a concern, wearing the shoes with socks for a break-in period will definitely help soften the leather with some wear.

The Sweet Janes come with an optional removable 3.0 mm moisture-wicking foam insole. I’m not a fan of the bumpy texture and I prefer the extra shoe volume so I choose to remove mine. The footbed of the shoes is a smooth polyester and the stitching attaching it to the upper, although visible, is unobtrusive to the bottom of my feet.

Barefoot Feel & Function
The injection rubber outsole may seem thick at 9.0 mm but it is fantastically flexible for its thickness. Small rocks will not be felt through the material but the shoe easily bends around ground contours. Hardcore barefooters may dislike the muted ground feel but I think this is a great introductory minimalist shoe as the flexibility will increase foot muscle strength and agility. Their anatomic last easily allows for natural foot movement.

Weighing in at under 6 ounces or 160 grams (for the size 39), they are well within the range of lightweight for a minimalist shoe. The design and choice of materials also lends to a well balanced feel between the upper and the outsole.

A fabulous feature of this shoe is its traction. I’ve noticed that grip is something often overlooked in casual shoe design, especially in the women-specific department. The Sweet Janes have amazing traction on both wet and dry man-made surfaces. In addition, you could easily wear these on dry or slightly damp light trails, although I wouldn’t want to because my great-looking shoes might get dirty and I like them for fancier casual outfits.

Upper Qualities
The upper is made of 100% genuine leather with suede accents. Although the leather itself is not breathable, the open design and moisture-wicking polyester lining help keep feet dry. The leather is relatively thick and can use a break-in period for added pliability, which can be easily accomplished by wearing socks in them for a short time. They also get softer as they warm up to foot temperatures.

As with any leather footwear product, you can increase their longevity by using a good quality leather shoe protector.

Sole Qualities
The outsole is made of 9.0 mm LemsRubber™ injection rubber with a zero drop design. The lateral corner of the heel features a denser rubber material for increased longevity, which is a fabulous design feature. Although slightly less flexible on the very outside edge of the outsole, the material adds considerable durability to this high-wear area. The rest of the outsole is wonderfully flexible with a great traction pattern and 3.0 mm grip depth. As with all Lems Shoes products, there is no arch support designed into the shoe.

Overall Quality
The quality of the manufacturing is impeccable as all three pairs of Sweet Janes that arrived are flawless in their seams and construction. One of the review pairs, some of the first production units, had a flaw in the leather and, upon discussing with the company’s president, I was informed that steps have already been taken to improve the leather quality. This is a company that cares about their customer service and I’m confident will help consumers in any way they can if unexpected issues like these arise.

The thickness of the leather, the quality of the lining materials, and the quality of the rubbers used in the outsole construction inspire a firm belief that this is a durable and long-lasting product. If you live in damp environs, a good quality leather protector will prolong the life of the leather as well.

The Sweet Janes have one of the most attractive designs of any of the women-specific casual shoes on the minimalist market. They have a high quality look with their genuine leather upper and flawless construction. The asymmetric suede accents are gorgeous and the punched flower design on the forefoot is lovely and feminine. I love everything about the style of these shoes!

As a women-specific casual shoe, the Sweet Janes can be used for everything from errands around town to date night dinners. They are comfortable enough for long walks with the dogs and stylish enough for office-appropriate attire. They are currently available on the Lems Shoes website in a beautiful burgundy Cordovan colourway and a rich brown Caramel. They will be available in October in an all black version as well.

At $95 USD, they are competitively priced in the casual minimalist market as well as the high quality, all-leather footwear category. These shoes are going to last a long time and I think are definitely worth their price point.

The Lems Shoes Sweet Jane is a casual mary jane-styled shoe with tons of flare and character. I can’t say enough wonderful things about their style but they are also more than that; they are also comfortable, durable, and functional with their anatomic last and flexible, minimalist outsole. These shoes will also get more comfortable the longer you wear them as the leather will soften with wear and heat. The hardest decision will be picking which colour to get (or you could try them all ;) ).

For more information or to purchase the Sweet Janes, you can check out the Lems Shoes website.