“They’re Like a Second Skin” - A Softstar Moccasin Testimonial, Four Years Later
Have you ever had that one special item of clothing or pair of shoes you felt like you couldn’t live without? A well-worn sweatshirt, perhaps, that fits perfectly and represents the ultimate in comfort for you? For Amanda, a friend of mine and fellow Softstar devotee, her handmade leather Roo moccasins are just such a treasure. Amanda is a freelance editor based in Seattle. She’s a voracious reader who loves spending time exploring her city, adores her cats, and is obsessed with the show Twin Peaks. I had the pleasure of interviewing her about why she loves her Softstars so much and how they’ve held up after several years of daily use.
Shelley: When did you get your first pair of Softstars?
Amanda: I got them in 2013, so it’s been four years. Definitely longer than I've owned any pair of slippers--and, really, almost longer than I've owned any pair of shoes, period. I buy most of my shoes from thrift stores, which saves money but also means that my used shoes have somewhat shorter life spans.
Shelley: It seems like you have a really special relationship with these shoes, like they're a part of your daily life in a unique way I haven't heard from many other people. Can you describe that?
Amanda: I've always had a strong desire to wear some kind of footwear indoors beyond just socks. I was thinking today about how my mother used to wear a pair of comfortable shoes indoors, and would tell me that wearing shoes (not slip-ons) throughout the day would help keep a person motivated and working rather than just sitting around. So we definitely weren't a take-your-shoes-off-at-the-door type of family. I don't know if it was that piece of advice or just a personal preference that led me to consistently wear some kind of foot protection indoors. Throughout my adult life, I've also typically lived in older houses with wood floors, and I haven't wanted to get splinters or step on a wayward nail. So I bounced from pair to pair of cheap slippers, thrifted flats, really whatever I had on hand that wasn't too restrictive or dirty to wear indoors. Then, I brought home my Softstar moccasins, and they were the perfect combination of all-over protection and comfortable flexibility. I've worn them literally every single day since that first day I brought them home. I wear them when I'm doing chores AND when I'm sitting and relaxing while reading or watching TV. And I know they're sturdy enough that I can run the trash out in them without tearing them up.
Shelley: Would you say the leather has held up well for four years of daily use?
Amanda: It's held up extremely well. As I said, better than any other shoes, even leather combat boots I spent a ton of money on. There's no sign of the seams giving way anytime soon. The only signs of wear and tear are stains I've collected on the toes from wearing them so much (I'm quite clumsy, and spill things often). The bottoms have smoothed out over years of use, but again, show no holes, tears, or breakage at all. I love the sheepskin inside--it has great temperature regulation--and the only reason I'd order a new pair is probably to have that brand-new sheepskin padding. I've also been craving some funkier colors, and can justify that after knowing how long they'll last. I don't wear them outdoors, so I don't know how long they'd last in comparison if I did. But even with so much indoor use, I'd expect them to be worse for the wear than they are.
Shelley: I remember you saying before that they work great when it's hot or cold. Can you say more about that? Some slippers make my feet too hot, so I love this aspect.
Amanda: Yeah! I think it's just that they breathe really well and I know sheepskin plays a part in that. I've read that wool evaporates moisture quickly, so my feet don't feel clammy or sweaty inside. They can benefit from that comfortable padding without feeling so constricted or hot. And then, of course, in winter they keep my feet warm enough that I don't need to layer up on socks. I really do wear them so much that I feel very strange when I don't have them on, in any weather... especially since I work from home and have my daily "uniform." They're like a second skin now.
Shelley: Part of Softstar’s philosophy is to create a "barefoot" feel, and that sounds like exactly what you're describing.
Amanda: Yeah, for sure. And I actually really dislike being barefoot, especially now. I want to *feel* like I'm barefoot without stubbing my toes (again, I'm clumsy), getting splinters, stepping on nails or crumbs or cat litter... so this is the best of both worlds for me.
Shelley: So, part of what frustrates me with the clothing and shoe industries is that almost everything is mass-produced overseas and I feel like the quality is often lacking and I have no idea if my money is going to support sketchy working conditions. Is part of the appeal for you that you know these are handmade by a small crew in Oregon?
Amanda: Knowing that the shoes are handmade in Oregon is a big appeal. I do try to be conscientious about where my apparel and footwear is made: the conditions, the location, and everything that goes into that. Sometimes I'll make exceptions for clothes, because so many stores, even thrift stores, don't have offerings that go beyond standard sizes, and so many of the "ethical" brands don't offer "plus-size" clothing, which is really limiting. And I've made exceptions for shoes when I just couldn't find any good options for affordable, sturdy rain boots for stomping around Seattle, even though I spent hours researching. So, I do tend to do a lot of research about where my clothing and shoes come from, but even then, finding a satisfactory pair of shoes in my price range that were ethically made is a real challenge.
Four years ago, I would've said these slippers were out of my price range, but now that I've worn them every day for so long and know how they were made and where they were made, I can see that the price is right. It's rare for me to be able to spend $100 or less on a pair of shoes that will probably last forever, as well as match my ethical and environmental preferences. I also probably wouldn't thrift slippers so having this option is even more important to me.
Shelley: I know you're planning to get a new pair of Softstars soon using the custom design option. Which colors are you choosing?
Amanda: Yes! I'm going to order them as a birthday gift to myself, and I'm really excited. I’m getting another pair of moccasins. The front will be red (Blaze) and the back will be black. The circle on the front will be black, and the small star inside it will be red.
Shelley: That is so you! I know you love red and black, so I bet it was fun to be able to create these. Thank you for chatting with me!
A Roo for You
Softstar has been handcrafting the Roo moccasins discussed in this post for more than 30 years. These moccasins are available as a customizable shoe, with plentiful color combos to choose from. Be sure to also check out our brand new selection of Roos made with Nubuck leather.
Like Amanda, do you have a pair of Softstars that have become a special part of your daily life? If so, we’re honored! Leave a comment below to tell us about it.