barefoot running featured

Meet the Brand: Lems Shoes

Saturday, April 09, 2016 Jen Lezan

There has been a transition in the types of running shoes that are being used by running hobbyists and professionals alike. From spiked to split toe, to minimal and now the barefoot sneakers, running shoes have gone through an amazing evolution over the years. Many runners today are looking for lightweight shoes that mimic the natural shape of the human foot.


The idea behind the minimalist/barefoot movement is that humans have been running since way before the modern invention of the shoe and that the foot is well suited for running without the aid of footwear. Recent research reveals that humans were able to run comfortably and safely when barefoot or in minimal footwear by landing with a flat foot (mid-foot strike), or by landing on the ball of the foot before bringing down the heel (forefoot strike). Due to this, many runners have opted to go the route of minimal footwear and are seeing tremendous benefits from the change.

The “barefoot shoes” are said to offer the closest feel to running barefoot. The soles of the shoes provide the bare minimum in protection from potential hazards on the ground. Many of these types of shoes have no cushion in the heel pad and a very thin layer (as little as 3-4mm) of shoe between your skin and the ground. Others offer a bit more cushioning.

The game changing feature of the barefoot shoe is that is has a “zero drop” from heel to toe. The drop of the shoe is the difference between the height of the heel and the height of the toe. When you have a minimal drop, it helps you to land on a midfoot or forefoot strike. As was mentioned earlier, studies have revealed that this option mimics that of the of the early human population. When one looks at traditional running shoes, by contrast, most styles feature a 10–12mm drop from the heel to the toe. 

Lems Womens Primal 2 Black on Black


Due to the fact that traditional running shoes tend to encourage runners to strike the ground with the heel first, this puts a lot of pressure on the body that can lead to issues later on in life. The idea is that the farther the heel is from the ground, the more acceleration forces people are going to have to deal with when that heel hits as it's almost always going to hit on the outside and move inside.

Whether a style like this works for you or not, is totally dependent on your body, comfort and feet. Typically, people with high arches tend to have the shortest break-in time and don't struggle when running in these types of shoes. Yet, heavily pronating runners—those people whose feet flatten during weight-bearing exercise—may struggle to adjust to the lack of arch support. So, where does one go to find a pair of top notch barefoot running type shoes? One great place to check out is Lems Shoes.

The Lems concept began in 2008, when Founder: Andrew Rademacher took the initiative to design the running shoe of his dreams. As a college decathlete, he was always on the lookout for shoes that worked well for him and would always come up short. After 3 years of trial and error, he launched and went into production of the first Lems in 2011.  

Recently,  I had the opportunity to try out Lems  along with one of our Fashion Editors and give the brand a run through. Put simply, we have been converted and have to testify! Our Fashion Editor first tried the shoes in March during a busy time of the season while she was coordinating Spring fashion shows. Being on her feet for 14-16 hour days for an entire week - definitely put a strain on her feet. Yet, despite her background in Fashion, she understands function is needed. Therefore, while she is typically running around in heels, she always packs a pair of flats or running shoes to wear pre and post events. 



The black on black women's primal 2 received the highest achievement from our fashionista. Not only was this style functional, it was fashionable. She was complimented throughout the week on the chic styling of the minimal shoes. Outside of the visual appeal - the comfort level was out of this world. As someone with a very high arch, the barefoot shoes worked wonders for her. Usually, she experiences pain and sore feet when she's at shows, but this season she was excited to report that her feet never felt better and by Friday of her crazy week, she didn't even pack heels - she went straight for her Lems. Although our Fashion Editor focuses on fashion, she also has a passion for running. The Lems proved to be her choice for her distance runs on her local prairie path. They were light weight, helped her gait and kept her protected from the gravel.

I personally was very happy to see that the shoe not only looks good and fits good, but is also created with high quality materials. As someone with the exact opposite of our fashionista when it comes to arches -  I suffer from flat feet. I typically endure soreness from minimal shoes due to this. Yet, the lower sole helped establish a more natural stride for me. What I appreciate most about this brand is that they stick with a family run, hands on business ethos that is quite evident in the product they make and the customer service they offer.  

Lems Mens Primal 2 in Cardinal


The Primal 2 that we tested is assembled using a no-sewn construction. It is this development process which allows the shoe to comfortably form to the natural shape of the wearers foot. Finishing touches such as lightweight microsuede and open-weave mesh, allow your foot increased airflow and better breathability. The brand has even expanded when it comes to their offerings. The idea that "barefoot" or "minimal" should be strictly for running shoes is thrown out the window by the Lem's team. They see an opportunity to bring comfort, function and style to not just sneakers, but also to dress shoes and boots. The mens side of the business offers boots, dress shoes and boat shoes. 



The Men's Mariners offer comfort and style in one simple package. The shoes help to promote balance and help alleviate foot issues like bunions and hammer toes. The Lems team understands that great quality is in the details. Their newly designed insole featuring a 1.0mm pigskin leather/4.0mm breathable open cell PU compliments their1.8mm leather upper in order to keep that barefoot funk at bay. It's a good looking shoe that works well both in the office and out on the weekends.





A lot of thought and energy goes into creating an innovative shoe - even more work goes into running a successful US based business with a small business mentality. After such a positive experience, I wanted to learn more about this brand. Luckily, we had the opportunity to speak with founder: Andrew Rademacher. Keep reading for the full interview! - Dwight Bejec (Men's Lifestyle)

1.  ANDREW, CAN YOU PLEASE TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF, YOUR BACKGROUND AND WHAT LED YOU TO PURSUE LAUNCHING LEMS SHOES?

I was a college decathlete, which meant that I participated in 10 events, wearing 10 different pairs of shoes. I began to analyze them and tried to understand why they were designed the way they were for each event. But in the end there was always the same common denominator: there was misshaping between the shoes and my foot. The shoes would taper at the toe to a narrow pointed tip, while she shape of the foot is the widest at the toes, where the toes spread apart – it made no sense.

After college, I was thinking more and more of shoes and the foot and how shoe companies have it all wrong. From there, I had a thought of starting a shoe company. I got a job working at a New Balance shoe store and became a certified fit specialist. This had me constantly looking at shoes, feet and the complete mismatch. I worked one on one with customers, fitting their shoes, analyzing gate and how important shoe design really was.

From there, I began researching and sketching shoe designs on my own. I started purchasing specimen shoes to cut apart and understand the internal components of the shoes and how they’re constructed together. After that, it hit me. I wanted to start a shoe company.

2. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE BRAND, WHO IT CATERS TO, HOW IT’S GROWN OVER THE YEARS AND HOW YOU ARE DIFFERENTIATING FROM OTHER SHOE BRANDS?

Lems stands for “Live Easy and Minimal” – our philosophy is simple, less is more. We have taken out all of the unnecessary materials such as shanks, heel counters, toe counters and keeping the sole simple. Our outsole uses just one mold, there are no other components included.

Besides the “less is more” story, the fit of Lems is like any other shoe. We completely designed the last from the ground up: a last that mimics the natural shape of the human foot. In the beginning, Lems had catered mainly to those who purchased barefoot type shoes, like Vibram Five Fingers. But now we target those who are unhappy with their current footwear fit with a narrow toebox. Our audience has now expanded to a much greater market. We just want to make our customer’s feet happy.

Lems began with 1 style, the original Primal. Now we have four styles in several different color ways. We listened to our customer’s recommendations and later developed a boot, boat shoe and dress shoe. However, with all of our styles, we continue to focus on cutting out the unnecessary “fluff” in shoes, keeping our products as simple as possible.

We’re designing shoes in our own original way, not copying off other, bigger brands. The Lems last is an original that has been developed from the ground up. We aren’t like other companies that copy each other on style and fit.

At Lems, we’re creating shoes, like the Boulder Boot, which is completely collapsible, packable and weighs a mere 9.9 ounces. There’s absolutely nothing else like that on the market.

3. WHAT DOES THE DEVELOPMENT/DESIGN PROCESS LOOK LIKE WHEN YOU ARE CREATING A SHOE AND HAS IT CHANGED AS YOU HAVE GROWN AS A BRAND?

First, we took the shape of the foot and the shape of the last and designed the pattern of the shoe over that. This way, it flexes in the right areas, provide breathability where the top of the foot needs it, and puts the stiches in the correct places – not causing breakage or irritation. We start by sketching overtop of a 3-D last, rather than sketching on paper. This is another differentiating factor, while we keep the design as simple as possible. Other companies add in other gimmicks and fillers trying to incorporate “technology” that doesn’t necessarily exist.

Our design process still and will always include:
-A wide toe-box
-A wide last
-Zero-Drop platform
-Outsold compound (injection blown rubber) – this makes the sole super flexible, allowing the foot to bend and flex naturally.

However, after much research and trial/error, my design skills have come a long way from the beginning, which was about five years ago.

4. WHERE DO YOU ALL FIND THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR PRODUCT LINES AND HOW DO YOU WORK TO COMBINE FORM AND FUNCTION IN YOUR COLLECTIONS?

I find inspiration from looking at timeless designs that have been around through the ages - instead of looking at fads or trying to create an entirely new silhouette out of a shoe that’s completely different.

5.  WERE YOU PREPARED TO TAKE ON AN ENTREPRENEURIAL ROLE WHEN YOU LAUNCHED YOUR BRAND? DID YOU FACE ANY OBSTACLES WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED (OR EVEN STILL TODAY) AND IF SO, HOW DID YOU OVERCOME?

Yes, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mind. I not only had an idea for a different shoe design that had never been created before, but also a different way of doing business. Which includes selling directly online to the consumer and entirely outsourcing our distribution and manufacturing. All the while, keeping the design, marketing and customer service all in house, with three other people. Yes, that’s right, our company consists of only four employees, total.

As for obstacles, yes, of course there were. The first was taking that first step and doubting whether customers would like the product and be willing to drop $95 on the first pair. It was quite a big risk! Now today, the challenge is continue to grow internally as much as the product and brand continues to grow. How did I overcome this?  I hired the right people. 

6. ARE THERE ANY MENTORS OR PEOPLE THAT HAVE HAD AN IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE AND CAREER PATH?

Absolutely, John Rademacher, my father. His mentoring began when he started coaching me in track and field, to now as he’s an entrepreneur in many different industries. He’s mentored me and given me the confidence to pursue my passions and dreams by starting my own company. And he has become a mentor for my colleagues, as well.

7. WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR LEMS IN THE UPCOMING YEAR? IS THERE ANYTHING READERS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR?

2016 is by far going to be our largest growth year. Our social media presence is rapidly growing, while our customer base has been expanding into various demographics that we hadn’t anticipated. We’re coming out with our boat shoe, the Mariner (Gen. 2), in several new colors. The original Mariner was a success, but the new and improved mariner has many different design enhancements. Also, be on the lookout for the brighter/more feminine colors of the Primal 2. However, we’re still taking our customer’s requests and working on an all leather waterproof boot. In 2017, we will be launching a second brand in the hiking market place. Stay tuned....

8. ARE THERE ANY SUGGESTIONS OR WORDS OF ADVICE YOU COULD SHARE WITH PEOPLE LOOKING TO LAUNCH THEIR OWN E-COM BUSINESS OR PURSUE ENTREPRENEURSHIP?

My advice is to always just take one step at a time. You have your dream, but you don’t need to have all the answers up front all at once. Take one step forward and the next step will appear when it’s ready to all on it’s own.  E-commerce opens up all new and exciting opportunities for marketing their brand online directly to the customer. Not having to depend on another big company/retailer to relay your story to the customer. It’s also convenient not having to focus on a big budget marketing campaign with national TV ads or billboards. Today, things spread virally. If it’s a good product, it will sell itself. It’s as simple as that.

9. THE FASHION/PRODUCT TYPE INDUSTRY SEEMS TO BE GOING THROUGH AN EVOLUTION, WHY DO YOU THINK THE INDUSTRY IS CHANGING FROM THE TYPICAL FAST/CHEAP FASHION FORMAT TO SOMETHING NEW-FOCUSED ON LOCAL MAKERS AND SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT. HOW DO YOU THINK THIS EVOLUTION WILL AFFECT YOUR BRAND?

I think the fashion industry is definitely going through an evolution. At the end of the day, consumers are getting what they’re asking for by different brands. Someone hears the buzz and starts a brand to create the product that those customers are demanding. What we’ve learned is that people are willing to pay a little bit more money for locally sourced products developed with local materials. As consumers, we’re  beginning to be more and more picky – the weight, feel, softness, fit and fine details are all that matter now.

However, instances like this is what’s helping our brand. Being located in Boulder, Colorado, there’s an outdoorsy market here; they’re looking for local brands to purchase from. It’s pushing us and creating more of a challenge for us, which all in all is a good thing. It pushes us to make sure that we have all the details right when creating new products, developing new color ways and most importantly, being able to continue to grow and expand as a company.

10.  FINALLY, WHERE CAN OUR READERS LEARN MORE ABOUT LEMS AND PURCHASE?

You can learn more about us and about our company at www.lemsshoes.com - where you can also purchase directly through our website. Customers who sign up for our newsletter will receive a 10% off discount on their order and receive important product release updates, sales promotion codes, and much more!

You can also follow our social media accounts:
Facebook – Lems Shoes
Instagram - @LemsShoes
Twitter - @LemsShoes
Pinterest  - @LemsShoes
LinkedIn - @LemsShoes




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