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Oregon Minimalist Footwear Brand Softstar Launches 4 Oz. Athletic Shoe

Oregon-based footwear brand Softstar Shoes has crafted its most lightweight athletic shoe yet.

The 35-year-old, family-owned brand specializes in leather moccasins, low-profile slip-ons, sneakers and flats. The company’s minimalist designs—characterized by thin, flexible soles—were the basis for the new Quick Dry Dash RunAmocs, which launched this month.

Softstar CEO Tricia Salcido said she wanted to challenge the brand to create the most lightweight shoe possible. “We have a strong background in minimalist footwear, but we wanted to explore new innovations to see how light we could go,” she said. The new design weighs in at 4.2 ounces, making it one of the lightest options on the market.

While athletic footwear often relies on substantial cushioning and structure to support the wearer’s foot through a variety of activities, Softstar claims these elements can actually end up adding unneeded weight to a shoe. Sneakers with heavy soles can cause muscle fatigue when used over extended periods. By contrast, minimalist styles put less strain on muscles and allow wearers to react quickly to their surroundings and the ground underfoot, they said.

The newly released sneaker features 5mm Vibram soles and a quick-drying mesh upper.

The Quick Dry Dash RunAmocs are made with completely vegan materials, including a breathable mesh upper that allows for extended wear in or around water. According to Softstar, the shoes are designed to prevent chafing or waterlogging even during intense exposure, like wading through streams or lakeside activities.

With a 5mm Vibram Omniflex sole, the style is designed for “barefoot shoe enthusiasts who love to explore the outdoors,” Softstar added. The barefoot exercise trend began gaining steam about a decade ago, when some medical experts and brands began touting the benefits of wearing ergonomically designed, thin-soled shoes designed to avoid interfering with a human’s natural gait. The minimalist design allows for optimal proprioception, or awareness of the positioning of one’s body within its surroundings.

The $140 style is available on the website in unisex sizing.