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Introducing TOMS: The Footwear Brand Changing The World One Shoe at a Time

Is there, or has there ever been, a brand that has had a more positive effect on the world than TOMS? Probably the most philanthropic brand on the planet, in just 10 years of existence TOMS’ revolutionary One for One® mantra has formed a business model that has not only brought profitable success, but has also changed the lives of millions around the world for the better. TOMS has already provided 60 million free shoes for people in need, restored sight for over 400,000 people, provided over 335,000 weeks’ worth of clean water, and secured safe birth services for over 25,000 mothers in little over a year. TOMS is a brand that prides itself on its benevolent, international approach to fashion and its admirable ambition to change lives all over the world has seen the brand rise to become a firm favourite among eco-conscious and responsible shoppers. At a time when some brands are criticised for their working conditions or the way in which their materials are sourced, TOMS has marked itself out as an industry leader for offering fashion-forward products while simultaneously tackling some of the biggest issues affecting lives around the globe today.

TOMS is a brand rooted in adventure and came about pretty much by accident just 10 years ago. When TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie was travelling through Argentina in 2006, he was saddened by the sight of young children growing up in poor conditions without even any shoes on their feet. Determined to find an answer to this problem, Blake’s solution became what is today known as the One for One™ business model; his idea was to create a for-profit enterprise that was sustainable but also provided shoes for those in need with every purchase. This idea was first applied to shoes, in hope to provide those children on the streets of Argentina with some shoes that would keep them safe from infections. The brand's success allowed Blake to put shoes on the feet of those Argentinian children and quite a few more feet around the world, with over 60 million shoes purchased—and so given away freely to those in need—over the next ten years.

TOMS Shoes brand history

Despite this success, Blake and his brand remained restless and wanted to extend the business model to help many more millions of people around the world. His next venture saw Blake attempt to help those with vision difficulties and no access to trained opticians or glasses in their local communities. The TOMS Eyewear project was established with the same One for One™ model in 2011, and since its inception TOMS have helped restore sight to no less than 400,000 people in need. TOMS next wondered if it could contribute to one of the biggest issues in today’s world, that being access to clean water. Over 780 million people around the world are unable to access safe water systems, making them susceptible to disease and infection by using dirty water sources to survive. TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee uses 100% sustainable coffee produced in the areas that the brand is helping, and for every bag of coffee purchased, TOMS provides 140 litres—a week’s worth—of clean, fresh water to a person in need. Since it was first set-up, TOMS has provided over 335,000 weeks’ worth of safe water to those in need—that is over 47 million litres of water.

TOMS continues to expand its mission to affect the lives of people around the world. The brand’s latest project sees TOMS attempt to provide safe birth conditions for mothers around the world. Aligned with a new collection of bags for every TOMS bag purchased the brand delivers vital materials and training to its Giving Partners to ensure more safe birth facilities and fully trained nurses are available for more mothers around the world—reducing the risk of infection, disease and death during childbirth. In little over a year, TOMS has supported safe birth services for over 25,000 mothers around the world. Even going beyond the One for One™ model, TOMS is admirable for its constant desire to help and inspire people globally. The brand creates jobs in areas with little opportunity by setting up manufacturing and sourcing posts in the countries where the brand gives its shoes, water, eyecare and safe birth services. TOMS employs locals in the places it gives to in and takes inspiration from these local communities, working with people in the area to produce new limited edition designs and products that spearhead TOMS’ shoe collections around the world.

TOMS Shoes brand history

Here at AllSole, we admire TOMS for its indefatigable ambition to change the lives of those in need using eco-friendly, sustainable and benevolent methods. We are proud to welcome TOMS to AllSole, and we are proud to become a member of the TOMS community. #IAmTom

  • Sarah Atkinson
    Sarah Atkinson Writer and expert

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