Why minimal shoes? Partly because of things I've read, like the New York Magazine article You Walk Wrong, Barefoot Ted's website, Running Barefoot, an article You Walk Wrong and Your Shoes Are to Blame that expands on the New York article, and others.
And partly because of personal experience. I have high arches ("No," said the woman at the orthotics shop, "you have extremely high arches") and have been dealing with sore feet and foot discomfort for as long as I can remember. I tried all the usual recommendations — "wear sturdy shoes that cradle the foot and provide ankle support", or "try athletic shoes with lots of cushioning" — no good. I went so far as to drop $250 (not covered by insurance) on a pair of orthotics, which seemed to help for a while.
Since my foot injury, I've been paying verrrry close attention to my feet (and the legs they're attached to) and how they feel. To my great surprise, the most comfortable my feet have been were while I was wearing a pair of ballet slippers.
Not ballet-slipper-styled street shoes, ballet slippers. No sole, no support, no cushion ballet slippers. Of course, since they were never intended to be worn outside a dance studio and have no soles, they wore through very quickly. But that was enough to show me that for everyday walking around, my feet are happier with minimal or no shoes, rather than cushy supportive ones.
I've been wearing ballet flats for the most part lately, but they're not quite as practical as I'd like. Pirate goes monkeying off up a tree and I'm left standing on the ground looking at it, knowing that there's no way I can climb it and still keep my shoes on my feet. (And thinking "Dammit, I'm the one who grew up climbing trees and scrambling over boulders, not Mr. Rockaway Beach up there.")
Puma seem to have some interesting shoes, based on what I see my fellow Bay Areans walking around in. Cool — I think I'll check the website to see what their selection of women's shoes look like.
Okay, the website sucks. Flash-based, auto-playing music (as I lunge for the mouse to click "OFF OFF OFF DAMMIT TURN THAT MUSIC OFF"), way too arty... ugh. Well, if I can find the shoes, it should be fine. Okay, so where's the link to shoes? Hmmm... over here on the left, what's this menu?
Screw it, I'm going over to Zappo's.