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Toms Shoes

In: Business and Management

Submitted By Amine1962besten
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TOMS Shoes: From Soul to Sole


TOMS Shoes


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Region of Impact:

South America


Human Empowerment, Human Health


One to one movement, shoes, unique product design

Reference No:


Key Ideas
TOMS shoes are the harbinger of what has been christened as the ‘one to one movement’- for every shoe a customer buys, TOMS donates a pair to a child in need. Going beyond corporate philanthropy, TOMS has integrated the spirit of positive world impact in the very heart of its business, making it a truly sustainable model.


The organization’s undying commitment to help the children around the world and its unique shoe design form a potent combination that uses the force of business for generating societal benefit. The novelty of the product resides in an improvisation on the design of traditional Argentinean rope-soled shoes called ‘alpargata’ to reflect the needs of the American market. Alpargata are light-weight and resilient slip-on shoes with a breathable canvas top and soft leather insole, traditionally worn by Argentinean workers. Craftsmen in Argentina and China are enlisted to produce a more durable rubber-soled version of this canvas shoe. The shoes are a unique slip-on design comprised of clean lines and lightweight fabrics in vibrant colors and prints. These are sold through some of the best stores in retail with many celebrities using and appreciating the product. The multiplicity of colors, design, fabrics and categories of shoes resulted in the organization bagging the coveted ‘People’s Design Award’ from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. In what the organization calls ‘shoe drops’, they match every pair of shoe purchased with a donation of a pair to a child in need. Efforts are also made toward elimination of a disease called Mossy Foot or Non-Filarial Elephantiasis caused by a soil of volcanic origin. Selling the shoes online helped the company grow rapidly. While the margins are still lower than a traditional shoe company, the publicity generated by the raison d’etre of the organization has provided the impetus for the ever-expanding customer base. The organization provides opportunities for the customers to be involved in more than just buying shoes- they can volunteer for the shoe-drops and provide the word of mouth to help the business grow.
The organization also partners with other agencies to create awareness and generate sales. The band “Hanson” has been instrumental in doing so in what they call their ‘walk tour’ where they walk one mile with fans, sometimes barefoot, to bring awareness to the difficulties of living without basic necessities like shoes. The audience is also encouraged to buy TOMS shoes.

Since TOMS was founded in May of 2006, it has given over 100,000 pairs of shoes to children in Argentina and
50,000 pairs in South Africa. The projected figures for 2008 are 200,000 pairs of shoes to children in need around the world. The organization, growing rapidly as a business, hopes to expand its reach to children in other parts of the developing world.

TOMS describes its mission as making life more comfortable for those in need. This statement was inspired by the founder Blake Mycoskie’s experience of viewing abject poverty and health issues in Argentina. Too poor to afford shoes, children developed cuts and scrapes on their feet that lead to serious infections. By matching every pair sold with every pair donated, TOMS is making the lives of many children easier. TOMS shoes are what they profess to be- the shoes of tomorrow- comfortable, wearable, and trendy, making a statement not just about the style of the customer but also about her values. As the founder of the company claims, it’s impossible to wear a TOMS shoe without feeling good about it. Primary Sources
World Inquiry Interview with Blake Mycoskie by Hema Pokharna Organizations
TOMS Additional Resources

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