Birchbury Bramford Minimalist Shoe Review – $99.00

Disclosure: We are a professional review site that receives compensation from the companies whose products we review. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed are our own.

Minimalist footwear has really caught on in recent years. Zero drop heels, wide toe boxes and less padding have encouraged people to take a more natural approach to walking. However, a lot of the options are fitness oriented so finding a more casual option has been difficult. That’s where the Birchbury Bramford Minimalist Shoe’s come into play. If you’re looking for a minimalist shoe that doesn’t look like it gets shot out of a Nerf Gun, read on. 


The Birchbury Bramford’s are made from American sourced full grain leather. They have a thin padded insole and rubber outsole with a wave contoured tread pattern. Stitching looks clean and tight.


The Birchbury Bramford Minimalist Shoe does take a little getting used to, especially if you’re not familiar with zero drop heels. Most modern shoes have a wedge of cushioning in the heel and places your feet at a slant. The Bramford has a thin, even layer of light cushioning across the footbed so your foot sits in a more natural position. The toe box is wide enough to let your toes wiggle and move. I can best describe these shoes as wearing a glove when compared to wearing mittens. Your foot does a little more work and you can definitely feel the ground, but in a good way.

I really like the elastic laces. These are basically slip on shoes and it makes taking them on and off a real pleasure. These make for excellent travel shoes, they have a small footprint (No pun intended) and stow away easily into an overnight bag or backpack.


The Bramford is a very simplistic shoe in nature and it lends well to a classic design. Clean and unobtrusive lines make this a shoe you will have little difficult in pairing with just about any outfit. It also comes in black. 


After using the Birchbury Bramford Minimalist Shoes, I’ve really come to love the easy feeling they have on my feet. There was definitely a learning curve, so to speak from years of wearing highly padded footwear. My feet feel more pliable and strong, because they need to work. The look and feel of the shoes is nice, but the price is a bit steep. Decent quality and a great look make this an option one might consider when looking for a low key minimalist shoe. 

Lems Shoes Mariner Boat Shoe Review – $105

Baseball season beginning, allergies picking up, and finding myself going to bed while the sun is still out are all things I typically look forward to in spring. Another perk though, being the opportunity to ditch the boots and wear some light and comfortable shoes. That quest ultimately led me to the Lems Shoes Mariner Walnut Boat Shoe.

LemsMariner (2)


Lems Shoes is a family owned business that has been producing footwear since 2011. It all started when Grand Shoebah Andrew Rademacher was having trouble finding the ideal shoe, a natural design that allowed for unrestricted mobility. Thus began a long journey in development, from working at a shoe store to literally dicing up expensive sneakers to see how they were made. Lems is  based out of Boulder Colorado where Andrew designs the shoes. I was surprised to learn that Lems is ran by four employees and works closely with a factory in China who produce their footwear.

LemsMariner (8)


The Mariners are made from 1.8mm full grain leather, the interior of the shoes have no lining to promote breathability. The soles are made from LemsRubber, a proprietary injection blown rubber. In case you’re not up to date on your rubber sciences, air-injected rubber is lighter, softer and more flexible than traditional rubber. However, this sometimes comes at a cost of less durability. You’ve got a 1.0mm Pigskin/ 4.0mm open-cell PU sole. The Mariner’s main difference from a traditional boat shoe is the lack of a heel. There is a zero drop offset which means when the shoes are on, your heel and the balls of your feet are equally level. At under 9 ounces, the Lems are easily half the weight of other shoes.



The whole idea behind Lems Shoes is to let your feet operate on their own, without the impediments of modern footwear. You definitely “feel” the ground more in these as opposed to shoes with thick soles. While you  might notice you can’t trounce over the occasional rock with the same aloofness as before, I personally feel the Mariners offer a more intimate walking experience. Since your toes are engaging more, you are more perceptive to how you move and navigate everyday obstacles. I would suggest taking these on a few shorter walks as you get used to the Mariners. The lacing does an adequate job of keeping your foot secure but I do wish the tongue was a bit higher or even better if it had elastic to keep it in place so you could slip them on without lacing. The zero break involved on the Lems Mariners is a nice break from the leather shoe norm and you’ll be out and about immediately.

LemsMariner (1)


The Lems Shoe’s Mariner has that classic boating shoe ancestry that remains a pretty timeless design. The toe area is as wide as I’d go, as any more would look almost clog like. Although it should be noted that this is a fundamental feature of the Lems– the larger area for your toes to move improve your traction and foot engagement.

LemsMariner (9)

The leather wears quite nicely and the sole contrast is on point. With a purely aesthetic objective, I would have liked to have had a straight edge from the heel collar to the tongue but understand this allows the fibula more freedom of movement. Overall Lems did a good job of retaining the boat shoe look while cleverly including minimalist features. Lems+American Flag Shorts+BBQ = Profit

LemsMariner (3)



We’ve seen a lot of nice footwear here at BestLeather. Most of the time you need to spend weeks breaking in shoes, so it was an absolute pleasure just throwing on a pair and going. The build quality is pretty solid for the $105 price point and while the styling has a few minor hiccups in my opinion, I feel they are definitely one of the better looking minimalistic shoes out there. If you want a light, simple shoe that will help strengthen your feet, Lems Shoes Mariner Boat Shoe are a solid option.  


Oliberté Narivo Review – $125

It’s not every day you have the opportunity to work with companies like Oliberté. This footwear company is extremely unique because they are the world’s first Fair Trade Certified footwear manufacturing factory. If buying products from a company who gives back in many ways is important to you, Oliberté’s offerings are a perfect place to look.



“Oliberté is a sustainable brand supporting workers’ rights in sub-Saharan Africa. We believe in empowerment, transparency, and doing right by all. This means making premium quality products with a lifetime warranty, and it means treating every employee, everywhere in the world, with respect. In 2009, we started off as a small footwear company partnering with factories and suppliers in Africa. Since then, we gained enough momentum to launch our very own factory in 2012. We make every single pair of Oliberté shoes at this factory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In September 2013, we also became the world’s first Fair Trade Certified™ footwear manufacturing factory.” To read more about Oliberté’s story and the Fair Trade model, check out their About Us page on their website

This company is dedicated to quality, respect, and humanity. Each and every pair of shoes or boots they produce reflect these intentions and principles. We will be taking a look at the Oliberté Narivo shoes, the classic Oliberté shoe.



The Narivo shoe was immediately a household favorite when it arrived. My siblings were envious and my parents were constantly complimenting the shoe’s construction. Right out of the box you could tell the shoes had been formed with care and passion. The premium Ethiopian-sourced leather is soft to the touch, yet provides adequate support and structure. The inner lining is dark brown goat leather, allowing your foot to slide in easily. Using the traditional stitch-down stitching, the leather upper is attached to the crepe colored natural rubber sourced from various African countries. All in all I have been pleased with how well these shoes have been constructed. Quality materials, expert local craftsmanship, and a good cause put these shoes in good standing.





 I have steadily used these shoes for about 2 months now. I have taken them to Las Vegas, the Oregon Coast, college classes, and numerous day trips all over Oregon. Only once have my feet been uncomfortable in these shoes, and that is because the the first time I wore them I walked 25 miles in 2 days while at the trade shows in Vegas. These are extremely comfortable, all-purpose shoes, perfect for numerous occasions. The only negative aspect of the Narivo is the sound they make when I walk. Occasionally I’ll sound like a duck clapping down a hallway, so I have to adjust my gait before receiving stares from people. Perhaps this is just how I walk, but it is the only pair of shoes where this happens to me. Nonetheless, these shoes consistently perform well.





The Narivo is genuinely a do it all shoe. The casual loafer style truly allows the shoes to be worn with numerous wardrobes, which I can really appreciate. The shoes come in two different leathers. Brown/Yellow Pullup, and Dark Grey Nubuck. Both of these colors are rich and full, and both are top quality. The lacing on both pairs of shoes matches their color, giving them a very slick, well-rounded look. When the shoes first arrived, the stitching was a dark tan color, but after using them for a while the color changed to a dark brown, matching the shade of the leather. If you’re in the market for a pair of high quality, do it all leather shoes, the Oliberté Narivo shoe is a great place to start. The company also has several other casual shoe and boot styles that meet these criteria.



The Narivo shoe has performed extremely well, especially for the price point. At $125, this shoe is a great deal for men looking for quality leather, casual footwear. Oliberté continues to impress me with their leather shoes, and their business model. Head on over to their website and check out some of their offerings and what makes them so unique. And for the women, don’t worry. We have a review of a pair of women’s shoes coming very soon.