DS is 18 mos and still wears soft soled shoes mainly. He has a couple pair of 'real' shoes but seldomly wears them. I think around 2 is when we will quit doing the soft soled shoe thing.
My LOs have never worn through a pair of soft soled shoes, but I also rotate between a few pairs so maybe that's why... I get them second hand from friends, shops, etc. I can't fathom paying $30 for a thin piece of leather that will be outgrown in a couple months.