Take a Closer Look (TOMS Shoes)

When I visitToms Shoesed CIU as a preview student, I couldn’t help but notice how every person seemed to have a passion for God’s will and their place in it. It was one of the main reasons I came to CIU. As I grow in knowledge I can’t help but notice how ignorant we can be towards the organizations that we support or even participate in. So as a result, I’m writing this article on Toms shoe in order to note not only the pros of the company but also the cons.

As many of you know, Toms Shoes was started when Blake Mycoskie traveled to Argentina and noticed that the children there needed shoes to protect their feet from cuts, diseases and the journey to and from school. His hopes was to help the children by giving them shoes, ultimately leading to Toms shoes and BOGO (Buy One Give One) as many of us know today.

Since September 2011 Toms shoes has given out a million shoes to more than  twenty countries.  Toms has great intentions, but I question their aid support that they provide to the twenty countries around the world. How many countries actually “need” shoes? The need isn’t for more shoes, the need is for the selling of the already existing shoes in the local markets. There are more efficient ways to help struggling countries and people than simply handing out material. According to the A Day Without Dignity campaign, “Used clothing imports to Africa caused fifty percent of the increase in unemployment from 1981- 2000”.  The local markets are hurting from what we consider charity. It would be more beneficial if organizations like Toms and non-profits organizations would partner up with local businesses and markets rather than competing with them. One critic of Toms made tne point that the shoes we buy from Toms are actually made in China. When checking with the Toms website I found out that there is a factory in Argentina, and Ethiopia, however, they make the “giving only shoes”. This makes me wonder how much they really care about the countries they give to.  Not to include the name brand Toms shoe has made quite a profit off of their shoes, and social mark.

There’s a lot of criticism on Toms shoes,  however, I don’t believe that Toms should be completely trashed. Like many great movements there was a beginning , a notion or idea that trigger a new mindset. Toms marketing has manage to catch our generation attention which tends to be self-centered and materialistic, and get them to think about what they spend their money on , and how they can begin to help others.  As Daniela Papi wrote on this subject, “TOMS has opened a door and thousands of young Americans are lining up to walk through it (bare feet and all)”. Our generation is being exposed to the world outside of America. Now if we can just take this opportunity and form it into a movement that efficiently helps other countries and not just point out the needy that would be phenomenal . As I mentioned before this article is not to overly criticize Toms Shoes but to challenge you to take a closer look at what you support. Do you really know what you’re supporting or have you just been sold into good propaganda?

- Sarah Light