Blake Mycoskie founded Toms Shoes in 2006 based on the idea of giving away much of his product for free in order to help children in need.
Next month, Mycoskie will measure the success of his enterprise when the company delivers its one-millionth pair of shoes to a child in Argentina. He said it’s just the beginning.
The principle is simple: For each pair of shoes that Toms sells, one pair is given to a child in need in a developing country. The company’s distribution now reaches 28 nations and product is sold in 22 countries, with little overlap between the philanthropic and commercial markets.
“I don’t want it to be about us reaching a milestone,” said Mycoskie, who got the idea for Toms when he was traveling in Argentina. “This is our way of saying thank you to the million people who’ve purchased Toms.”
The shoes are made of uncomplicated fibers and are constructed from straightforward designs. It’s precisely this simplicity with which Mycoskie credits the company’s success.
“From a design perspective, we keep it very simple,” he said. “We don’t try to be all things to all people.”
The footwear is constructed of cotton and canvas, and some of half-hemp and half-recycled plastic bottles, in a variety of colors and patterns. It retails for $44 to $95 at Neiman Marcus, Whole Foods and tomsshoes.com. Mycoskie sought to broaden the brand’s reach through fashion and charitable collaborations, with Polo Ralph Lauren’s Rugby and Charlize Theron, and limited edition launches with Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.
Mycoskie said there is “a demand for more fashion,” and the company released its fourth design, a women’s espadrille wedge, this year.
“I’m trying to encourage everyone to think about how they can incorporate giving into their business model,” he said. “It feels good, but it’s also good for business, for building morale, which is equally important.”
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“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
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