Making a Mark: TOMS

TOMS Shoes has been making sturdy, reliable, and fashionable footwear since 2006, and the organization’s One for One model is a main selling point for many consumers: for every pair of shoes purchased from TOMS, a pair is donated to a child in need. TOMS founder, Blake Mycoskie, was inspired to launch the organization after a trip in Argentina, where he noticed children running around barefoot because most of them lacked access to proper footwear. Motivated by this need, he launched TOMS, a for-profit organization that has been recognized as one of the most innovative retail companies by Fast Company. The shoes are sold at over 500 stores worldwide, and more than one million shoes have been donated to children in need.

Because the idea behind the organization came to fruition thanks to Mycoskie’s visit to Argentina, the country’s residents themselves influenced the style of the shoes. TOMS employees and designers began creating footwear inspired by Argentine farmers, most of whom donned alpargata shoes. These casual Espadrilles are typically made with canvas or cotton fabrics. They’re widely available in Argentina and they always have been popular footwear choices for locals, as evidenced by the fact that Alpargatas Argentina, a lead distributor of the material used to make the shoes, is the main textile manufacturer in the country. Mycoskie began wearing the alpargata shoes himself and he ensured that the style was emulated in the products created by TOMS.

Since then, TOMS shoes have taken on many different forms.

They’ve been dipped in glitter…

Hand painted by resident artists…

And created by using vegan-approved fabrics…

But most of them have maintained the alpargata silhouette and overall form.

Alternative varieties, like the botas and cordones,were introduced to the market…

 None of the shoes were overtly feminine until February of this year, that is, when TOMS debuted a line of stylish ballet flats…

Taking a departure from the alpargata style, these shoes are sleek, stylish, and lightweight. They’re more expensive than their alpargata counterparts but the promise remains the same: for every pair of TOMS flats sold, a pair of shoes will be given to a child who needs them. 

So snag a pair and don your stylish footwear proudly, knowing that your purchase has made a difference in the life of a child in need.

Click here to visit the TOMS website!

Rachel Johnson is the Director of Project Development for the Touch A Life Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of exploited and trafficked children in West Africa and Southeast Asia. She lives in Dallas, TX.

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