TOMS: taking another look


I was initially put off by TOMS’ business model because it seemed that they were really just in it for personal gain; when you pay $40.00+ for shoes that won’t last more than a couple seasons, you better hope that people are getting more than one pair of substandard shoes. But I have to give them credit for creating a more ethical, charity-minded business model that has since been copied by dozens of companies.

And they’ve really improved since the last time I perused the site. They still give shoes, but they’ve also created jobs that provide a living wage, donate to various charitable organizations, and feature like-minded companies in their marketplace. These improvements make me feel better about backing them.

toms by fracturedradiance featuring TOMS

When TOMS first came on the scene, I was worried that their model was just another advertising angle. But recent changes make it clear that they really do intend to positively and sustainably impact the world – by spreading awareness, creating jobs, providing resources, and building up others. Good for them!

Do you like TOMS? I owned a pair a couple years ago; they were comfortable, but the quality was so-so.

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About Leah

Leah Wise is a member of FIRE in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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4 Responses to TOMS: taking another look

  1. I am curious about Toms. I was put off by the brand at first, too, and I’ve heard that the shoes they donate are not the same quality as the type they sell. But I did get a catalog last month and was impressed by what they’re doing. It’s so hard to find ethical or even made in the USA shoes, so I think this might be a great place to start. I have read about SoleRebels, which are fair trade and made in Ethiopia, but I haven’t purchased a pair yet.

    • leahwise says:

      More than anything, I’m impressed that they’re trying to be more transparent, even if they’re not quite there yet. But I agree that a truly fair trade company would be better to support. I tend to buy most of my shoes secondhand on ebay.

  2. I was always off-put by TOMS because it seems like they were being intentionally vague about where and how their shoes were manufactured. When they first came out they had a statement on their website about the manufacturing being ethical, and then they removed it and didn’t address the point at all for a long time. The last time I looked (several months ago), they had added a report on their manufacturing that focused on human trafficking-related concerns. It was a step forward, but it also kind of missed the point by focusing only on that specific issue. I don’t know if they have any better disclosure now.

    • leahwise says:

      Yeah; I’m still not completely sold on the one-for-one model as it’s employed by a number of companies. But where there are no other alternatives, it’s better than buying from a company that has no ethical goals.

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