Recently, TOMS was awarded the Compassionate Business Award by PETA. But you say, TOMS isn’t even a vegan company?! They sell a lot of leather shoes! That’s exactly what we were thinking. PETA says “companies like TOMS are stepping up with vegan shoes and accessories to keep you cruelty-free from head to toe.” We were a little skeptical so we hopped on over to TOMS site and we were pleasantly surprised by their expanded collection of animal-friendly products. Before, they only had a few colorways of their now ubiquitous espadrille. Now they have a few different lace up sneakers and even a flip flop.
While we are still waiting for the day this undoubtedly good intentioned company goes fully cruelty free, we are comfortable sharing their current men’s vegan selection as of spring 2016. Womens’ styles to come in a separate post. Note that we are not showing all available colorways. For that, go here.
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.
Toms Shoes has several different new vegan models for this spring. These cruelty free joints feature sailing patterns, and come with appropriate names such as the Seaport and Tangier. I’m not a biggest fan of these vegan models, and I much prefer the non-vegan styles. Some of them actually feature laces! Or lace holes at least… anyway, these are basically the signature style of Toms Shoes – simple, no frills, loose and comfortable slip-ons. Perfect to wear whether you’re at your house chillin or playing bongos in the park. Still, I have to mention that the uppers are made out of hemp and recycled plastic bottles, how eco is that? Also, to my surprise, the insole is actually EVA padded, and has latex arch support. This is more than I can say for a lot of shoes featured on this blog (ahem, Vans). For a person with flat feet like me, that’s a huge plus. Anyway, check out the new styles.
Oh, and of course I had to mention their One for One policy. You are basically buying another pair of shoes for a kid with a purchase (which, for some, would justify the price). And look at the results – look at how happy those people are below!
Of course, there are several other vegan Toms Shoes that aren’t new for this season – these are my favorite of the bunch.
Toms Shoes has teamed up with the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project on a limited-edition shoe, is now available on the shoe brand’s Website.
Co-designed by actress Charlize Theron, the unisex shoe is made from vegan materials and was inspired by the baobab tree, whose silhouette is embroidered on blue and orange canvas. A portion of the proceeds from each pair will go directly to the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, which provides education about the need to provide sustainable health, education and recreational resources to remote areas with high rates of HIV/AIDS.
“I’m thrilled to have Toms Shoes as a partner,” said Theron in a statement. “We are so grateful for their generous donation of shoes to the students that we work with. They are passionate about the kids and have been incredibly supportive of the work of the Africa Outreach Project. It’s exciting that we’re able to come together in such a cool and creative way to bring attention to the needs of many South African youth.”
The limited-edition shoes are available for $54 and are sold exclusively on Tomsshoes.com.
TOMS Shoes is best known for their humanitarian causes and charitable contributions. Their “One for One” policy provides one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased (by you!). While I could go on about how incredible a model this is for social entrepreneurship, some might not know they have a whole slew of vegan shoes! TOMS vegan shoes “contain no animal by-products.”
Pictured above is the, uhhh, there’s not a model name, but it’s called “Caramel/Plaid Patch Woven.” The toe and heel are corduroy, with the mid sporting a black and brown patch pattern. The insole is faux suede, the sole is rubber, and you got some arch and heel support for a little more comfort. The rest of the guys shoes are pretty much the same, but with some different patterns and materials.
Now I have to admit that these kicks don’t really appeal to me. I don’t even know if they can be called kicks. They’re more like… house slippers – I’m thinking if I get a pair, I’m definitely needing a robe and a pipe to go with them. Or, are they a cross between ballet flats and kung-fu shoes? Still, Bruce Lee is badass. Looking like him isn’t such a bad thing.
It gets even more interesting with the women’s vegan selections. Check out this crazy Rust Wrap Boot (pictured below) – It’s straight out of Lord of the Rings! Where’s your bow and quiver at? Now, I think how it works is the calf part of it is elastic, so it’s stretchy and comfy. It’s actually kinda cool because high boots are so popular with the ladies nowadays, and it’s a little dressier than flats.
Now, at prices that range from $54 for the flat shoe and $98 dollars for the boot, you might be thinking, as I do, that it’s kind of pricey for a canvas slipper type thing. Let’s be honest TOMS, your kung-fu elf boots aren’t affordable. But look at it this way. You’re basically paying for two pairs of shoes – one for you, and one for a kid who can’t even afford them. Satisfy your thirst for fresh gear while doing some good. TOMS – finally a company with a serious commitment to making a contribution.