I want to start off this letter by saying: respect. I think what you’re doing is amazing. You’ve managed to turn some unremarkable, overpriced slipper-like shoe products into an exemplar of social entrepreneurship. Your “One for One” campaign? Brilliant. Us fortunate ones take shoes for granted, so a lot of us don’t even know that these kids don’t have shoes to wear. How awful must that feel to go barefoot? And your solution to help them is so elegant, so simple. We buy a pair, you donate a pair To me, your company is more effective and salient in serving basic needs of people, unlike some of your precursors like One Laptop Per Child. And, you are the blueprint of other ambitious social entrepreneurs such as Warby Parker. I applaud you and I wish you the best of luck.
But I have one message to you, and I hope you take this seriously: don’t sleep on the vegans. Your message is one of compassion, yet you have quite an anemic selection of vegan shoes. I personally love your new styles (boots, and those that have actual laces). But THEY ARE NOT VEGAN. Curiously, you refrain from using leather on the outside, but… the insoles are made of suede! Surely there has to be a reason for that, but I cannot think of a good one. You are not ignorant to the plight of animals, as reflected by the outright labeling of your vegan shoes. You are also not unaware of your customer base, as many people who embraced your style and your mission were free-thinking people likely sympathetic to veganism/vegetarianism.
So what’s the deal? Honestly, we don’t really want an explanation. We want some movement; action. You are a 21st century, information-age business. You know what to do. What I would suggest is nothing radical: take out the leather insoles on your shoes with non-leather uppers. For example, the two shoes I have pictured in this post, the Cordones and the Botas can easily be made vegan by switching up the insole. Man, are these shoes are sweet. I think it sucks ass that I cannot in good conscience buy these because of the stupid animal insole. And it sucks for you too, because you are losing a customer.
If you really wanted to do the right thing, you should just make all your shoes vegan. Hell, a lot of them are close already. But like a lot of shoe companies, inexplicably, it is imperative that you incorporate a “patch” or “stitching detail” with traces of leather. Sigh. But this would be a more drastic measure, and sometimes, gradualism is a good thing.
Toms, this is our New Year’s Wish. Holler at your vegan homeys. We love you guys, but just don’t ignore us. We are paying attention, and we’re not going away.
P.S If you feel how we feel, let ‘em know! Contact Toms Shoes here.
P.S. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!