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Opinion: TOMS shoes ugly, fragile

The logo of TOMS shoes. Photo courtesy of toms.com

March 16, 2011

 

The logo of TOMS shoes. Photo courtesy of toms.com

I am super against TOMS shoes. They are a good marketing tool, but they are bad aid.

Please don’t chuck your TOMS at me just yet. Hear me out.

Don’t get me wrong, what Blake Mycoskie is doing is great: for every pair of shoes that TOMS sells, it donates a pair to a child in need. One for one.

Even though the people who wear TOMS look like they have bandages wrapped around their feet, the idea behind them is absolutely phenomenal. But in supporting TOMS, are we really trying to do good? Or are we just buying stuff that comes with a case of the warm and fuzzies?

And while Mycoskie and those like him are doing fantastic things, I worry that someone who buys a pair of TOMS will consider their job done. They will feel good about their $50 shoe purchase, knowing they have just given a pair to a child in need when a donation of half that amount could have possibly helped that child in substantially more substantial ways.

In addition, TOMS are just So. Dang. Ugly. They may be ultra-comfy, but darling, pain is beauty. Personally, I think that $50 is too much for a pair of shoes that look like they were stapled together. It also does not help that they are not  very sturdy. If you are going to give shoes to unfortunate kids without them, they should at least be fierce and durable. Think about it: if TOMS fall apart so quickly when they are worn on concrete sidewalks and in school hallways, how effective will they be to an African child who runs around on dirt terrain? I would rather just donate the entire $50 to go towards a pair of quality shoes instead of 2 pairs of mediocre ones. But that’s just me.
The logical stance is that doing some good is better than doing nothing. I am just wondering how much good we are actually doing.

I am not sure if there is a right answer here, but I think this question is at least worth asking ourselves. It might be the only way to find out if we are really doing good, or if we are just trying to make ourselves feel like we are.

 

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Comments

20 Responses to “Opinion: TOMS shoes ugly, fragile”

  1. Emily Blatt on March 16th, 2011 2:06 pm

    I disagree. I think that the idea of TOMS is why they sell, which is a great way for the kids to have shoes that wouldn’t have shoes without the program. Even if the shoes aren’t as durable as, let’s say steel toed boots, they will do their purpose as shoes for those less fortunate than Americans. I also think they are super cute, as well as really comfortable.

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  2. Emily Blatt on March 16th, 2011 2:06 pm

    I disagree. I think that the idea of TOMS is why they sell, which is a great way for the kids to have shoes that wouldn’t have shoes without the program. Even if the shoes aren’t as durable as, let’s say steel toed boots, they will do their purpose as shoes for those less fortunate than Americans. I also think they are super cute, as well as really comfortable.

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  3. John G.L. on March 17th, 2011 7:52 am

    I agree with Ms. Sokolyuk. Even though I don’t wear them, they don’t seem to be that much bang for the buck.

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  4. John G.L. on March 17th, 2011 7:52 am

    I agree with Ms. Sokolyuk. Even though I don’t wear them, they don’t seem to be that much bang for the buck.

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  5. Katrina Sokolyuk on March 17th, 2011 7:59 am

    Exactly, it’s just the idea of TOMS that sells them. But the majority of these shoes are made in China and, cost like $5 a pair to make and should retail for $20-25. Essentially the buyer is buying two pairs, one does go to donation, but the TOMS company makes double the profit on each pair. It’s just a marketing ploy.
    And if the aim of wearing shoes is to prevent soil-borne diseases such as hookworm, then $50 would go much further if invested in sanitation. You might give to an NGO that builds latrines, for example, which serve more people and last years longer than a pair of shoes. Shoes can be attained anywhere, but things like sanitation, healthcare and water cannot.

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  6. Katrina Sokolyuk on March 17th, 2011 7:59 am

    Exactly, it’s just the idea of TOMS that sells them. But the majority of these shoes are made in China and, cost like $5 a pair to make and should retail for $20-25. Essentially the buyer is buying two pairs, one does go to donation, but the TOMS company makes double the profit on each pair. It’s just a marketing ploy.
    And if the aim of wearing shoes is to prevent soil-borne diseases such as hookworm, then $50 would go much further if invested in sanitation. You might give to an NGO that builds latrines, for example, which serve more people and last years longer than a pair of shoes. Shoes can be attained anywhere, but things like sanitation, healthcare and water cannot.

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  7. Maria on March 17th, 2011 9:54 am

    Katrina, I think you make a really good point. Settling for giving shoes is not enough support for third world countries. It’s true that the idea is good; shoes are cute (sorry, I’ll have to disagree here), and any help at all counts towards something greater, but also, people can’t assume that this is it. There’s more good one can do than giving shoes, and after people do this, it’s like they don’t feel the need to give any more. You bring up a really solid point here. There’s more than can be done than this, and we need to challenge ourselves to do that.

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  8. Maria on March 17th, 2011 9:54 am

    Katrina, I think you make a really good point. Settling for giving shoes is not enough support for third world countries. It’s true that the idea is good; shoes are cute (sorry, I’ll have to disagree here), and any help at all counts towards something greater, but also, people can’t assume that this is it. There’s more good one can do than giving shoes, and after people do this, it’s like they don’t feel the need to give any more. You bring up a really solid point here. There’s more than can be done than this, and we need to challenge ourselves to do that.

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  9. David Proctor on March 17th, 2011 11:38 am

    I think part of it comes from the fact that a lot of people don’t want to donate without getting something in exchange. Especially teenagers. How many teenagers do you see donating to NGO’s? It would be great if they did, but they just don’t. So at least this allows people who wouldn’t normally donate to make some sort of impact.

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  10. David Proctor on March 17th, 2011 11:38 am

    I think part of it comes from the fact that a lot of people don’t want to donate without getting something in exchange. Especially teenagers. How many teenagers do you see donating to NGO’s? It would be great if they did, but they just don’t. So at least this allows people who wouldn’t normally donate to make some sort of impact.

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  11. Britney on May 22nd, 2011 6:53 pm

    I agree and disagree, I agree that these shoes are well overpriced, and then I disagree that these shoes to me in my opinion are adorable(: but they are not worth $50. I would rather get the bobs even though they are copying sketchers.

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  12. Britney on May 22nd, 2011 6:53 pm

    I agree and disagree, I agree that these shoes are well overpriced, and then I disagree that these shoes to me in my opinion are adorable(: but they are not worth $50. I would rather get the bobs even though they are copying sketchers.

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  13. Ching Wah Wei on June 24th, 2011 2:14 pm

    I have to agree with the commentor above, I own a factory in Taipei where these shoes are manufactured. It costs roughly $1.50 US to produce these shoes, where we in turn markup to $5 per pair to sell to distributors, who in turn mark it up to $25, and so on and so forth. We use the cheapest materials possible, obviously to make the most money. It was never about the kids for TOMS company. Just a very good business model utilizing current day societal influence.

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  14. Ching Wah Wei on June 24th, 2011 2:14 pm

    I have to agree with the commentor above, I own a factory in Taipei where these shoes are manufactured. It costs roughly $1.50 US to produce these shoes, where we in turn markup to $5 per pair to sell to distributors, who in turn mark it up to $25, and so on and so forth. We use the cheapest materials possible, obviously to make the most money. It was never about the kids for TOMS company. Just a very good business model utilizing current day societal influence.

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  15. Jason on March 1st, 2012 3:23 am

    Where can I buy a pair of ladies classics in Taipei?

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  16. Jason on March 1st, 2012 3:23 am

    Where can I buy a pair of ladies classics in Taipei?

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  17. Veronica on June 23rd, 2012 7:20 pm

    I completely agree that the concept of Toms is just a marketing tool. There are far worst problems that people in Africa face everyday that need to addressed such as clean water and food. Shoes are by far the least of their problems. On the contrary, great companies like Oliberte manufacture their shoes in Africa by providing job opportunities for African people. Their project is actually sustainable with the goal in mind to create and develop a thriving middle class.

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  18. Veronica on June 23rd, 2012 7:20 pm

    I completely agree that the concept of Toms is just a marketing tool. There are far worst problems that people in Africa face everyday that need to addressed such as clean water and food. Shoes are by far the least of their problems. On the contrary, great companies like Oliberte manufacture their shoes in Africa by providing job opportunities for African people. Their project is actually sustainable with the goal in mind to create and develop a thriving middle class.

    [Reply]

  19. John on July 8th, 2012 1:33 pm

    I agree with this article. I mean number one, when i see people wearing toms at my school I think ” dang man you do not know how bad your affecting your image.” I mean really it’s a girls shoe,but they look bad regardless. Now getting to the point of donating the shoes, yes it is a good cause because alot of kids in these poverty stricen countries need shoes but really they can live with out some thin, cheap material shoe. If anyone wants a good looking shoe that is comfy buy a boat shoe! After you break them in they will be extra comfy, Bass or Sperry’s is what brand I recomend.

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  20. John on July 8th, 2012 1:33 pm

    I agree with this article. I mean number one, when i see people wearing toms at my school I think ” dang man you do not know how bad your affecting your image.” I mean really it’s a girls shoe,but they look bad regardless. Now getting to the point of donating the shoes, yes it is a good cause because alot of kids in these poverty stricen countries need shoes but really they can live with out some thin, cheap material shoe. If anyone wants a good looking shoe that is comfy buy a boat shoe! After you break them in they will be extra comfy, Bass or Sperry’s is what brand I recomend.

    [Reply]

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