TOMS, the trendy and philanthropic retailer, announced that it has reached a landmark achievement. Since the company’s creation seven years ago, it has given over 10 million pairs of shoes to needy children around the world.The company giving model called “One for One” is easy to follow: for each pair of TOMS shoes sold, it will also give a pair to a needy child.
TOMS has taken flight since its early days of selling simple, cloth slippers inspired by traditional Argentine alpargata shoes. While it continues to carry the original style, TOMS has branched out to include bandage-like boots, retro sunglasses, and even nuptial footwear. With its expansion beyond simple shoes, the company expanded its philanthropic mission, donating eye care, via prescription glasses or medical treatment, for one person per pair of glasses sold. So far, the eyesight of over 150,000 people has been restored through the initiative, according to a company press release.
As TOMS continues to mature, it says it will invest further in philanthropy. While the shoes are currently manufactured in Ethipoia, Kenya, Argentina, and China, TOMS is looking to open plants in other regions where it donates, including parts of Africa, India and Haiti. As a part of that initiative, it’s employing a handful of Haitian artists to design a limited edition line of hand-painted shoes. Judging by the trend in hand-painting shoes already, the Haiti Artist Collective’s line is bound to be a hit among fashion-forward shoppers.
TOMS isn’t the only company to dip its toe in tit-for-tat philanthropy, though it may be the most famous. Sketchers attracted some attention in 2010 when it debuted BOBS: simple, cloth shoes with thick rubber soles. Look familiar? The business model is, too—for each pair sold, Sketchers gives a pair to children in need. So far, BOBS is lagging behind TOMS, having donated about 4 million so far.
Warby Parker, an eyeglass retailer, follows in the same vein. It gives funding or a pair of glasses to a non-profit partner for each pair purchased. Warby Parker goes a step further than just donating the goods: its non-profit partners work in developing countries to train entrepreneurs, who then sell the glasses to their communities at affordable prices.
Despite its achievement, the company has no plans to rest on this week’s milestone: TOMS says it plans to give another 10 million pairs of shoes to needy children in the next two years, doubling its current total in just a fraction of the time it took to reach its first 10 million.