Do you know you can shop for everyday items and be a humanitarian at the same time? Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes, realized that “with so many different needs around the world, he felt TOMS had an obligation to try to improve as many lives as possible.” That is one brilliant business plan. I wonder what our world would look like if all companies operated under this philosophy?
A key to TOMS’ success is the One For One Movement in which a pair of shoes purchased means a pair of shoes is donated to a child in need. The next chapter in One For One problem solving was inspired by their fashionable eyewear collection. In developing countries, “poverty and disease can lead to vision loss. And blindness and poor vision keep people trapped in poverty.” What may be a stylish pair of spectacles for you becomes a special sight saving gift for someone else. (The website offers a cool Virtual Try-On that lets you superimpose the glasses you like over a human face to see how they’ll look on you…well, almost.) TOMS is expanding their horizons to sell men, women, and youth clothing, with the same shoe donation guarantee. The phrases of ‘One For One’ and ‘One Day Without Shoes’ appear on their apparel to highlight how everyday objects, like shoes and glasses, can affect one’s life so profoundly.
Community is definitely a focus for this consumer conscious brand. I appreciate how TOMS’ website strikes up a conversation (on style and individuality), asking enthusiastic supporters ‘How do you wear them?’ The response is 4563 images of people sporting the popular slip-ons with personal pizazz. Their intention is to ‘give fresh inspiration’, a commendable first step towards igniting creative participation with one’s wardrobe.
Supplying shoes to those who have none, seeks to improve quality of life, but consumerism cannot be denied in this exchange. New clothing does not have to die at the end of a fashion season. I think a revival of do-it-yourself fashion, without the 1990s train wreck of the Bedazzler, is being summoned… Prepare yourself for a Swap-o-Rama-Rama: an interactive, creative, community, outfit makeover!
One For One Movement: http://www.toms.com/our-movement