Comment from: Nimue [Visitor]
Nimue

I don't agree regarding the heel counter height. I believe it's fine and it helps the shoe stay on the foot more securely. Was this primarily your concern, or your mother's?

Which brings me to my second point. This is essentially a second hand review. It makes sense to write reviews on the behalf of children for example, does not really make sense to do that on behalf of women. Could you really not find any women capable of doing this? Would you take seriously a review on a men's shoe written by a woman, after she got some feedback from her father?

05/07/15 @ 12:38
Comment from: jarvis [Member]  

Hi Nimue,

Soft Star Shoes approached me to write a review of their Ballerine Flat after I had posted a very positive review of their Bullhide RunAmoc.

You can find all kinds of short reviews and testimonials for the Ballerine Flat on the Soft Star website and elsewhere online, but I felt that these shoes should be reviewed from the perspective of a running shoe reviewer. While birthdayshoes.com does have a handful of female writers, Soft Star approached me and I was happy to write a review for them.

This was not a matter of me "finding" anyone.

I am not affiliated with Soft Star Shoes or any other shoe company. I write running shoe articles on my own time for the minimalist/barefoot community and birthdayshoes.com.

I am a guest here, just like everyone else and I spend many hours and miles obsessing over barefoot shoes with the hope that my articles can inform others that are equally as obsessed as I.

As a shoe reviewer, I went over every single detail of the shoe as though they were on my own two feet.

The opinions of this review (and reviews do carry a lot of subjectivity in general) are those of writer of the article (me) and the assistant (in this case, my mother). I also researched other reviews and perspectives on the shoe and some individuals loved the heel collar, while some did not. Your individual experience may vary, which is why I said that the heel cuff may be a bit high for SOME as this was a concern that was brought up by my mother and one that I thought some shoppers should be made aware of.

I felt that Soft Star Shoes made an excellent product and it deserved to be well-reviewed and praised, which is why I was happy to review the Ballerine Flat for the running community. There are many benefits to be had for this shoe, regardless of gender, and while I am not the target audience for this particular shoe, I tried to represent the details and experiences as "first hand" as possible.

To answer your question: Yes, if a women wrote a review after getting feedback from her father, I would take such a review seriously if she wrote it with experience, a strong level of detail, and the hope that her review (however assisted) would benefit and inform others.

-Jarvis

05/07/15 @ 17:19
Comment from: Nimue [Visitor]
Nimue

If SSS approached you personally to write a review of the ballerine, then my disappointment is with them. And I am disappointed. Yes, we are all here because we're obsessed with barefoot shoes. It's sending an unfortunate message, inadvertent or not, if reviews for women's shoes are written by men.

Also- if soft star shoes did ask you to review the ballerine, why couldn't you just order a ballerine in your size? Then you could actually try it out, along with your mother. You'd be able to utilize your barefoot shoe experience then.

For your next review- it would be very helpful if you have the same assistant for the jing jing shoe, so that she can compare/contrast the jing jing and the ballerine. Or if you have a new assistant, that she also tries the ballerine in addition to the jing jing. It would be beneficial.

05/11/15 @ 14:19
Comment from: admin [Member]  

@Nimue,

I appreciate your perspective and feedback. That said, it strikes me as a little harsh to come down on Jarvis for lending an assist here -- or SSS, for that matter.

I've written a few reviews on this site of shoes on behalf of my daughter. Does that make the reviews worthless or invalid? Should I not have bothered, at all?

While it'd be nice if Jarvis' mother wrote the Ballerine review, I don't gather she is up for it. That said, by lending an assist here, Jarvis surfaced helpful information (even if you discount 100% of the written review and only look at the pictures) about a shoe that otherwise would not have gotten any airtime on this site.

I've been running this site for six years and it is exceptionally hard to find and keep female shoe reviewers who are willing to commit to writing in-depth shoe reviews, take high quality photos, and do it enough to be helpful. So while it's not ideal that this review was written by a third party, I obviously believe that it's still worthwhile to publish this content -- even if not everyone finds it as valuable as were it written by the person actually wearing the shoes.

I'd just as soon not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I'd guess you disagree in this case, and I appreciate you sharing that important perspective -- this isn't ideal -- but it's better than nothing.

05/11/15 @ 15:07
Comment from: jarvis [Member]  

Hi all,

If my mother were to write the review, it would most likely be in Chinese ;).

In any case--in my opinion--the "culture" of women's shoes is far more unhealthy than male shoe culture.

The focus has always been looks and form over function and health benefits, which is why it is even more important that great minimalist designs like Soft Star's Ballerine should be promoted and spread around.

dailyimprovisations was the only website I could find with a detailed review for the Ballerine and it was posted last year.
http://dailyimprovisations.com/comfortable-womens-ballet-flats-go-walking-dancing/

Again, I write shoe reviews on my own time (I'm a adjunct lecturer and Photographer) and have been very lucky to be able to find a shared passion in minimalist shoes with others.

-Jarvis

05/11/15 @ 16:09
Comment from: Nimue [Visitor]
Nimue

While your daughter is a child, it makes perfect sense for you to write reviews on her behalf. But your daughter is growing up... This is such a small thing. But are you really saying that even if asked, and provided with guidance on the detail you would prefer in a review and the photos- there are no women who could do an adequate job, and it's just better to have a man do it? Is that the message you want for your daughter?

05/11/15 @ 17:21
Comment from: Nimue [Visitor]
Nimue

Jarvis, regarding the culture of women's shoes:
I am very much aware of how incredibly unhealthy most women's shoes are, not to mention how difficult it is to go against the norm and defy societal expectations by choosing minimalist alternatives. Which is precisely why it is so important to have women writing the reviews of minimalist shoes for women.

05/11/15 @ 18:56
Comment from: admin [Member]  

@Nimue,

Reviewers who do a good job are hard to come by. There are many more men who volunteer to write reviews than women on BirthdayShoes. This site lives and breathes by volunteer efforts. So not having many female reviewers is not something within the realm of my control. I think both Jarvis and I would much prefer women review women's shoes. Doesn't this go without saying? I believe we could be extended the benefit of the doubt here.

As it stands -- whether intended or not -- you are taking a highly antagonistic stance and perspective on a voluntary effort to share info. Jarvis was simply trying to surface a review on a shoe that would otherwise never have been reviewed on this site because of a lack of female reviewers!

And yes I have actively sought females I thought might consider writing a high quality review to do just that-- but have only been able to get the occasional help. This site runs on the volunteering and free help of the community. You get what you get. And its not easy to keep it up between day jobs, family, and everything else. I hope you can see that side of this effort.

05/11/15 @ 22:42
Comment from: Ella [Visitor]  
Ella

Thanks for the review! I think you did the best you could with the information you had.

The difficulty with asking a non-barefooter's opinion of the shoe is the limited understanding of the principals of barefoot running/walking. It is likely that most women who wear standard shoes (ie. narrow toe box with a heel) in day-to-day situations are all going to find these shoes comfortable - unless their Achilles have been shortened by wearing high-heels for too long and they can no longer wear flat shoes. Their feet (unlike mine!) are used to the narrowness of typical shoes, so anything kinda wide/flexible/flat will be comfortable.

Having wide feet though is not the same as having a normal sized foot that has been trained to be barefoot. Mine are very narrow near my ankles and very wide at the toes due to barefoot walking. A wide foot may be considered as one that is wider for the whole length of the foot. The shoe would then fit the two feet differently.

More important questions for this review include:
1) Low Heel? Yes
2) Firmness and lack of cushioning? Appropriate.
3) Wide toe-box? Unlikely!!!
4) Lightweight? Yes
5) Flexibility and lack of arch support? Yes

For me as a female, I am also looking for these general things:
6) Is it nice looking? Can I wear it to work/social outings? Yes
7) Variety of colours? Yes

I have tried many women's shoes (e.g., Vivobarefoot's Jing Jing, Merrell's Mimix Haze) and they are all the same: they have narrow toe-boxes. This allows them to make the shoe look nice. Even if the shoes are extremely stretchy to allow for toe splay, this is not the same as having a wide toe box. I find that in everyday walking, this stretchiness still limits barefoot walking. I assume that this shoe relies on the stretch as the photos above show that the shoe is a snug fit. The only pair that answers questions 1-5 correctly for me are Lem's Primal 2's. Unfortunately, I cannot wear them to work or on a girl's night out. (Disclaimer: I own 2 pairs of Lem's but am not affiliated in any way).

My ideal ladies' shoe would be to take the outline shape of a 5-finger shoe (without the fingers!) and create a ballerina shoe from that. Mask the lack of pointy tip with a giant flower/sequins/glitter. Anyone who creates a pretty, true-minimalist shoe has my business :)

05/16/15 @ 08:33
Comment from: Nimue [Visitor]
Nimue

Ella, I agree with you on all your points!

Regarding the fit of the ballerine and how it stays on: this is precisely why I chose to get the ballerine with the sports closure. I wrote down some of my impressions of the ballerine here 5 months ago:

http://birthdayshoes.com/forum/feet-and-fivefingers-accessories-and-alternatives/soft-star-shoes-ballerine-review/

Here is an excellent review of the jing jing by RayKay done about a year ago:

http://birthdayshoes.com/forum/feet-and-fivefingers-accessories-and-alternatives/my-review-of-vivobarefoots-jing-jing's-(with-pictures!)/

05/18/15 @ 12:06
Comment from: Nimue [Visitor]
Nimue

Ha, I read your comment again and I had to address this:

"Mask the lack of pointy tip with a giant flower/sequins/glitter."

You CAN have the folks at Soft Star add a giant flower! I don't know about sequins, but they do have shiny options. I will say that their foot shape could be better... That's the thing I would want them to work on and experiment with although the shape of the ballerine is way better than I expected it to be so perhaps they are working on it. Another thing is their "wide" is wider all around, it's not just a wider toe box unfortunately.

05/18/15 @ 12:28
Comment from: Kira [Visitor]  
Kira

I have worn several pairs of Soft Star Shoes (SSS) over the years.

I have run low mileage (and lifted weights and kickboxed and interval trained) in a variety of minimalist shoes for at least five years now, and will always count my VFF KSO Treks in kangaroo leather as practically the perfect shoe ... I'm on my last pair and will sing a funeral dirge when they finally give out.

My feet are just inside narrow range, especially my heel. I typically wear normal width shoes for "everyday" in a size 10 when I'm not barefoot. I like my feet to breath and have plenty of wiggle room (my mother says my shoes are sloppy wide ... it is all in your perspective!) Exceptions are Birkenstocks (narrow size 40) and early SSS. I wore narrows in all SSS for the first years I purchased from them. Then they changed their sizing, and I've never been able to get a handle on their "new" width option.

My favorite SSS are Merry Janes. I order them in a narrow 9U.

I purchased a pair of Ballerine flats in 9U regular width, as per their emailed recommendation. I LOVED my Ballerine flats. They are extraordinarily comfortable. They do not constrict around my high instep, and the elastication around the upper is perfectly adjusted. They are not too tight (which would cause my heel to ache), but not loose enough to slip off easily while perambulating. But when I want to slip them off (since sleeping in them would be odd) a quick nudge of toe to heel slides them off easily - hands free devices!

HOWEVER, they only lasted me for about 4 months. I wore through that vertical leather heel strip above the sole after daily use. I am a heel striker when I walk, and I walk miles each day.

The Ballerine's have an interior seam and close circumference sole like the Metro style. As such, it is easy to wear directly on the leather upper at the heel while walking.

I prefer the exterior seam and semi-jutting sole of the Merry Janes.

While I appreciate the idea and comfort of the Ballerine, I will not be purchasing further pairs. The heel upper wears far too quickly with my walking style. The rest of the upper and sole remain in excellent shape, while fast heel wear shabbies the look in short order. As such, I will order Merry Janes instead.

If you are the type to shuffle, rather than stride, the Ballerines would likely wear slowly.

Personally, I could not justify the cost of 3x per year purchase of them (if I could, I would).

11/29/15 @ 13:46
Comment from: jarvis [Member]  

Kira,

That is interesting!

I would suggest you give soft star a call and they may offer you a replacement. They have very good customer support.

Letting them know may help them improve the design and durability in the future!

11/30/15 @ 12:39
Comment from: Karen [Visitor]
Karen

Thanks for the review. You introduced me to Soft Star shoes, and I wouldn't have known about them otherwise. I just purchased a pair of their Ballerine Flats based on this review. I don't mind that it was written by a man based on input from two women. I don't think Jarvis is a "professional" reviewer, getting paid for his work, so I don't think he has to follow such stringent reviewing guidelines as suggested by one of the commenters here. Anyway, thanks Jarvis, I appreciate your review. I thought it was very detailed and thoughtful and I like the photos.

06/17/16 @ 18:27
Comment from: jarvis [Member]  

Karen,

Thanks!

I'm glad you discovered Soft Star!

They are a great company and make fantastic shoes.

Full disclosure: I am never paid for my reviews, but I do keep the shoes in many cases.

I love taking the time to shoe my thoughts on shoes with other passionate folks such you yourself!

06/17/16 @ 20:39