What Goes Into a Softstar Shoe?

Softstar Workshop

Every single Softstar shoe is made at our workshop in Philomath, Oregon. Read more about our commitment to keep all of our manufacturing within the USA, and why we think this is so important.

Made in USA

Our talented elves have been making shoes since 1985 and are dedicated to designing unique and healthy options for minimalist footwear. All Softstar 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 Philomath 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!



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 Softstars wearing out quickly at those spots.



At Softstar, we have high standards for shoe materials that are natural, soft and functional:



At Softstar 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. Our leather is sourced from ecologically responsible tanneries restricted to countries with strict environmental regulations. When the leather is not available from USA tanneries, we source it from approved tanneries in Italy, Germany, 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.

Softstar Leather Room


Many of our Softstars 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. We source our sheepskin from both the USA and New Zealand.

Geunine Sheepskin


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.



Softstar 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.

Click here to see detailed descriptions of every sole used for our shoes.

Sheepskin Soles

Suede Moccasin Soles

Moccasins have our softest, most natural-fitting soles made from durable suede lined with our genuine sheepskin. These flexible soles follow the shape of your foot to allow a wide range of natural movement, and are preferred by Waldorf and Montessori schools for classroom shoes.

Rubber Vibram Soles

Rubber Soles

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 Soles

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.