Review: Softstar Ballerine Flats

Softstar Ballerine Flats in Black

I have been eyeing these flats now for several years because they seemed like the perfect unisex ballet flat. They even have a universal sizing that is based on men’s sizes. I finally took the plunge a few weeks ago and am now wondering why I waited so long.

Quality

I have only had my Ballerines for a few weeks now, but they appear to be well made. The Softstar website says they are handcrafted by “elves,” and these elves appear to do good work. The stitching is very well done and is consistent throughout the shoe. The leather these shoes are made of is incredibly soft, like Italian leather gloves. I could not tell if they are sheepskin or cowhide, either way they are very soft. Vibram soles are affixed to the bottom of the shoe with glue and I did not detect any gaps that might cause separation. Some might complain that you can see s little bead of the glue around the sole, but I found it reassuring that the sole was well-adhered. There is also a small tab of leather at the heel of the shoe to give a little more durability (where I usually get driver’s heel). Insoles for the Ballerine appear to be a layer of sueded leather on top of a thin foam backing that gives just a little bit of cushioning without detracting from the minimalist feel of the shoe.

Comfort

When I first put on my Ballerines after they arrived I was concerned that they might be too small. They only come in whole sizes and while I wear a 10 in men’s sizing, which corresponds to the Softstar 10U, I was concerned that a 11U might be too big if I had to size up. About an hour of wearing around the house demonstrated how moldable the leather is and the shoes became comfortable very quickly. If you are the kind of person who likes a truly minimalist shoe, these are definitely for you! I do feel like it is as close to barefoot as any shoe has been for me. Not to worry though, there is still just enough cushioning that you don’t feel every single rock on the sidewalk. The more I have worn the shoe, the more comfortable they have become.

These flats also have a roomier toe box so my toes don’t feel like they are being crushed together all the time. I also like the higher heel back that helps hold on the shoes better and feels comfortable against my heel.

The only negative so far regarding comfort is that the vamp across the top of my foot is still a little tight. It has loosened somewhat already and I am hoping that a little more wear will remove that small nuisance.

Appearance

For guys looking for a more unisex-looking ballet flat, you will really appreciate these shoes. These flats are not as narrow and feminine as many ballet flats out there, but they still have very pleasing and classic ballet flat lines. I have been mostly wearing my new Ballerines with jeans and shorts and I think they look great!

Other Features

I really appreciate the fact that Softstar has decided to manufacture their shoes in the USA, providing local jobs and not supporting some of the questionable labor practices that occur overseas. I am willing to pay a slightly higher price for shoes (or any product) where I can be assured the craftsmen (and women) are well cared for. Softstar is also very focused on sustainability and to that end they try to keep this value in mind throughout their manufacturing process. They even have this really cool mailer that very durable and minimizes waste by including a return address label so you can send it back for re-use.

Conclusion

This is a really great shoe, particularly if you are someone who likes minimalist footwear. The only negative I can think of is directly related to this feature and that is a lack of cushioning and support. This might be a good shoe to start with if you are a guy who is considering joining the “ballet flat club for men who appreciate comfortable footwear.” The Ballerine is both a comfortable and stylish unisex option for men and their generous sizing up to 12U (12 Mens) makes it a viable option for many men (and women).

6 thoughts on “Review: Softstar Ballerine Flats

  1. Good review, FlatsGuy. I agree with everything you said. I have had Ballerines for a couple of years and I like them, but I also like a competitive brand (Tieks) better because the sole is thicker and because they are available in many more colors than plain black. But I do enjoy my Ballerines and I do appreciate that they’re made in the USA.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great Review. I may have to pick up a pair and see for myself. I like the minimalist look. However, like Steve, I have to say that the brand that rhymes with speaks has a giant array of styles and colors and the thick rubber sole. I also still need to retry a different size of Borns since the last pair I got didn’t fit right. This gives me great information though so I may start with a pair of these before Borns. Thanks again.
    I also love that they are truly marketing as unisex. I’ve been very impressed with some of the movements as of late for genderless fashion and these definitely fit the bill. I know there has been much debate with Mark Bryan and these would certainly fill the niche between something like Tory Birch and Tieks. Something a little more basic. So let’s hope that more people are drawn to comfortable shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Soft Star Ballerines were great except for one thing for me. The adult 12U sizing is too small, not a true 12 in the ballerines. I was expecting them to fit since I already had their Merry Jane in a 12U, which fit fine. I tried thick socks, getting them wet, wearing, wearing, wearing, but alas no-go. I wish their sizing was consistent, or they’d badge the 12U flats 11U like they really are. They told me that they can’t go any larger, which was disappointing because they seemed like great flats!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry the softstar ballerines didn’t work for you. The fact that they are hand made probably means there is some variation in sizing. Did you try isopropyl alcohol? That tends to allow a little more stretch to leather (works well on my cowboy boots). They sell spray bottles of it just for that purpose.

      Like

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