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Toms

A pair for kids with every pair you buy

Sector: Futurefashion
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Toms is a brand with purpose, and a dual business model – inspired by the simple canvas shoes of Argentina – it gives away a free pair away to street kids for every pair it sells. “One to One” has become a worldwide movement, and now stretches beyond shoes.

why-shoemaker-toms-is-getting-into-the-100-billion-coffee-marketBlake Mycoskie spent 2006 doing volunteer work in Buenos Aires, when he noticed that most young people wore simple canvas slip-on shoes called alpargatas. The shoes have also been worn by Argentine farmers for hundreds of years, and he decided to start exporting them to his native North America. As he explored more of the city he also realised that many children wore nothing on their feet, unable even to afford the $5-10 for alpargatas.

Shoes for Tomorrow (shortened to Toms) was born, a for-profit company, making cool shoes in an Argentine factory for Santa Monica beach, but also donating a second pair to it not-for-profit sister company Friends of Toms. “One for one” took off, with 10000 pairs sold, and given away, in the first six months. By 2012 2 million pairs of shoes had been made, and an equal number given away to children in developing countries around the world.

Pivot points for Toms in “changing the game” of fashion have been:

  • Think: Driven by a higher purpose, to make life better for poor kids
  • Design: Creating a dual business model, where profit enables non-profit
  • Mobilise: Building a global movement, an inspiring model of caring capitalism
  • Sustain: Working with manufacturers and charities in developing markets

The brand has extended its “one for one” business model into eyewear and clothing, and now coffee, primarily through word-of-mouth advocacy. In the case of eyeware, Toms provides eye surgery or prescription glasses for every pair of sunglasses sold. Beyond charity, the Toms brand has become for movement for more caring capitalism, including volunteering, education and support to entrepreneurs in development markets.

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