Last week TOMS introduced its new pricy classics by The Row. Does this mean a Three For One program will follow?
SHOPPING AROUND | I’ve been wearing the same pair of classic TOMS shoes for three years now, and I love them. I don’t know whether the alpargata, the Argentinean farmer/polo player’s shoe (a variation on the Spanish espadrille) that is the basis for the TOMS design has any arch support, but TOMS shoes have some, which makes them particularly comfortable—and a foot-healthy alternative to that other ubiquitous casual shoe, the flip flop.
Comfy TOMS are cool for sure, but their cachet and the company’s financial success is due largely to its One for One program. This potent marketing device, inspired by founder Blake Mycoskie’s original first visit to Argentina as a participant on the Amazing Race in 2002, is a shoe matching program: every time someone purchases a pair of TOMS, a pair is given to a deserving child somewhere in the world.
The popularity of TOMS has spawned pretenders (Paez and BOBS) and quite possibly sparked the current resurgence of interest in classic stitched and jute-soled espadrilles that sell like hotcakes for around $25.
TOMS are pretty inexpensive too (the classic can be as low as $45), but last week TOMS ratcheted up their take with the introduction of three new TOMS shoes for fall designed by fashion darlings May Kate and Ashley Olsen of The Row. Pictured above, their understated version of the classic, made from an expensive Italian wool and cashmere blend, is tempting even if the shoes do look more like slippers than regular TOMS. But at $140 and $150 a pair, these shoes are three times the price of the typical classic, which leaves me wondering whether TOMS will start a Three For One program. If one pair of The Row TOMS costs three times the original classic, shouldn’t that translate into more giving? Just askin’.—Annabel Lee
Photo: TOMS, Espadrilles.ca