What Goes Into a Soft Star Shoe?
Made in USA
Every single Soft Star shoe is made at our workshop in Corvallis, Oregon. Read more about our commitment to keep all of our manufacturing within the USA, and why we think this is so important.
Every one of our shoes is handmade at our workshop in Corvallis, Oregon. Our talented elves have been making shoes since 1984 and are dedicated to designing unique and healthy options for minimalist footwear. All Soft Star shoes are designed to mimic walking barefoot to promote balanced and natural foot development, just like people have been doing for thousands of years.
When we receive your order, we select and cut the leather, soling and sheepskin and get to work. Our team includes ace leather cutters, seamstresses and soling experts who work on your order before the shoes get a final inspection by Tim, our founder. Soft Star shoes are made with a non-lasted technique, meaning the leather will lay softly over the foot instead of being molded into a rigid and constricting toe box. It is normal for the natural contours of your toes to show through the leather. We use this method because it produces the most traditional, softest shoes without added stiffeners or adhesives.
Because we handcraft your shoe we are able to do fun things, such as letting you customize your own unique pair; you can choose the colors and motifs you like best, or customize with sheepskin innersoles or specific outersoles.
If you ever plan visit the Corvallis area, we encourage you to stop by and visit our workshop. Ask us for a tour and we'll show you step-by-step how our shoes are made!
At Soft Star, we have high standards for shoe materials that are natural, soft and functional:
At Soft Star we use only leathers which meet high safety standards both for our customers, and for the environment. As our little ones like to occasionally chew on their shoes, it is important to us they are as chemical-free as possible. Many shoes today (99.9%) are imported from countries using formaldehyde tanning methods. Formaldehyde is not only a potential irritant to your skin and absorbable transdermally, but it also pollutes ground water downstream from tanneries and causes well-documented health issues among tannery employees. Almost all or our leather is sourced from USA tanneries to ensure that it adheres to strict regulations. When the leather is not available from USA tanneries, we sometimes source it from approved tanneries in Italy, Brazil, South Korea or Mexico that meet labor and environmental standards set by our supplier. We are also proud to offer vegetable tanned leather from the Ecopell tannery in Germany, which we import due to their extremely high standards for quality and sustainable practices—arguably the most natural and sustainable leather in the world.
Many of our Soft Stars are available with soft, moisture absorbing natural sheepskin. Sheepskin is important in wicking away moisture and is naturally homeostatic, meaning it regulates temperature. Unlike synthetic fleece, natural sheepskin keeps feet at a consistent temperature, whether it is a sweltering afternoon or a chilly winter day. Don't be fooled by "genuine" sheepskin found in most big brands, If you look carefully you will find it is really wool fibers woven into a synthetic textile backing that lacks the natural wicking properties. We source our sheepskin from both the USA and New Zealand.
We offer a selection of animal-friendly shoes made from a variety of different vegan materials. Most are petroleum-based since our shoe manufacturing methods do not currently accommodate natural fibers that can unravel. The materials we have chosen are made in either the USA or Japan and offer exceptional durability.
Soft Star shoes are available in a variety of soling options. These fall into three categories: Suede/sheepskin soles, rubber (or rubber compound) soles and our bullhide leather sole.
Suede Moccasin Soles
Moccasins have our softest, most natural-fitting soles made from durable suede lined with our genuine sheepskin. We also offer our grippy sole, which has the same suede-sheepskin base with an additional layer of thin black rubber fabric glued to the outside for more traction on slick surfaces.
Many of our outdoor shoes feature thin rubber soles. We prefer made-in-USA Vibram™ products. Some soles are thicker than others to provide more durability, but all of our soles are flexible and designed to mimic a natural, barefoot feeling when you walk.
Bullhide Leather Sole
If you don't like rubber soling material, we encourage you to ask us about our bullhide leather sole. The bullhide leather is very durable, yet lightweight and flexible. We are proud to offer it on a variety of our adult custom shoes.
Customers often ask us how long our shoes will last. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that question. Some of our customers tell us their moccasins and running shoes held up well after several years of regular use, or that they have handed down their kids moccasins 3 or 4 times. Other people find their shoes wear down after only a few months. The biggest factor that determines how much life your shoes will give you is how you treat them. It is important to remember that soft leather behaves differently than conventional shoe materials. If you find you drag your toes or heels along the ground as you walk or run, then you will notice your Soft Stars wearing out quickly at those spots.