Monday, November 22, 2010

TOMS Shoes

The logo for TOMS Shoes modeled after the Argentinean flag.

I’m sure many of you have heard of TOMS Shoes and probably own a pair. For those of you who don’t know TOMS Shoes is an organization created to provide shoes for children in developing countries, including in Argentina where TOMS Shoes got its start. The company idea began when Blake Mycoskie was competing in the reality TV show The Amazing Race and they traveled to Argentina. He noticed how many children didn’t have shoes, which is what prompted him to start his company and model the shoes after the Argentine traditional alpargata design. What I really love about the company is the “One for One” movement where with every pairs of shoes sold, Blake donates a pair of shoes to a child in need.

As you know shoes are vital for the health of anyone in developing countries. If someone doesn’t have shoes they are prone to infection from cuts and sores as well as soil-transmitted diseases. Also many schools require shoes to attend so some children can’t go to school just because they can’t afford a pair of shoes. As of September 2010 TOMS has given over 1 million pairs of shoes to children in need. In a time when finding a sustainable way to help people in developing countries is becoming harder and harder, TOMS shoes provides a solution. I love the aspect that he created an entire company in order to help those oversees and by creating a company he ensure the sustainability of his charity. I’m part of an organization that brings healthcare to those abroad and most of our debates cover how to make our missions more sustainable. I also loved the aspect that the shoes themselves are modeled after a traditional Argentinean shoe, which is new to the United States, but a comfort for all the children in Argentina who are getting the shoes. This particular shoe is such a simple concept molded from just a piece of rubber and some flaps and canvas yet is could be the difference between life and death or an education. I have always followed Blake and his company and thought it would be nice to share his story of how a simple idea can help millions of children in South America as well as other developing nations. His shoes provide a service, educate others on issues in developing countries, and gives them a tiny taste of their culture by introducing a shoe style which has been in Argentina for hundreds of years.

The traditional Alpargata shoe

1 comment:

  1. I had completely forgotten about the fact that they give shoes to kids in third world countries. I usually associate TOMS with hipsters and then I associate hipsters with gentrification and then I just get upset, so when my little sister asked me to buy her some for christmas I automatically said no. My mom says that they cost too much, "y nomas es tela" or its just cloth its not worth $50. Truth is many kids in America need shoes too and I know my kid sister can't afford those shoes. Like so many fashion items in the United States TOMS shoes are a symbol of social class or an attempt to be associated with a certain social class.

    Although I understand that kids in third world countries need shoes and I'm sure he has the best intentions, I feel that the white male savior narrative is so common and problematic. We have to continue to be critical and ask why these kids don't have shoes in the first place. The consequences of colonization, globalization, and all kinds of other things are so often pushed to the side.