An Eye for an Eye, a Shoe for a Shoe: Toms Shoes and Their Impact

Toms Shoes has now become synonymous for ethical and philanthropic consumerism but few people know that it’s famous shoe for a shoe program has its roots in reality television. In 2002, Blake Mycoskie appeared on the reality television show The Amazing Race with his sister. It was during this trip that he first visited Argentina. Returning in 2006, he noticed that local polo players were wearing alpargatas, a canvas slip on and rubber sole with a very simple design.

Mycoskie also noticed that many of the children he saw in Argentina on that trip were walking around barefoot, suffering from a severe shoe shortage. Without shoes, these children, in many more nations than just Argentina, would not find it easy to attend school and were at severe risk of infection. It was then he came up with the idea of selling alpargatas in the American market but in a very socially conscious way (including a vegan compliant shoe). For every pair of shoes sold, his company would provide a pair of shoes to someone in need. The name of the company comes from the word tomorrow and the original idea “Shoes for Tomorrow Project.”

Moving quickly with visits to Argentinean shoemakers, the first run of shoes amounted to 250 pairs and began to sell them in 2006.  Press coverage resulted in nine times the order requests compared to what they actually had in stock. 10,000 pairs of shoes were ordered within the first six months and the equivalent number of shoe pairs were given in the first batch to Argentinean children by October 2006. Since then, the project has expanded to many other countries, including:  Argentina, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Rwanda, South Africa, and the US.

Toms is selling more than a shoe. They’re selling a concept for the consumer that their moment of indulgence becomes an act of philanthropy to someone in need. Because Toms focuses on areas where the lack of shoes has become a major health risk (due to diseases such as hookworm), the consumer experiences a sense of satisfaction at being the benefactor while trusting the company to efficiently help where it’s needed most.

Toms Shoes

Toms Shoes - Classic TOMS

They created the “One Day Without Shoes” event to arouse awareness in consumers of the issues and problems involved with living every day life without shoes, encouraging consumers to send the company pictures of their bare feet. For every picture someone sent, the company sent a pair of shoes to a child who needed them.

Toms has expanded with similar socially conscious programs for providing those items to people around the world. The company, with its emphasis on “caring capitalism” provides shoes, water, eyeglasses, safe birth, and bullying prevention to communities around the world. It should be noted that they do not work in a vacuum, certain that their way is the best way. Instead Toms collaborates with local partners to best serve the needs of the local community. Sustainable and socially conscious, Toms is proving to be the benchmark for corporate responsibility and giving.

Other Articles

Dr. Rahi’s Success in The Anti-Aging Market

Anti-Aging Medicine and Aesthetics Medicine. We're talking about new medical specializations here. Nobody talked about either of these specialties twenty years ago.

Dr. Rahi’s Success in The Anti-Aging Market

Anti-Aging Medicine and Aesthetics Medicine. We're talking about new medical specializations here. Nobody talked about either of these specialties twenty years ago.

Dr. Rahi’s Success in The Anti-Aging Market

Anti-Aging Medicine and Aesthetics Medicine. We're talking about new medical specializations here. Nobody talked about either of these specialties twenty years ago.