for One Movement â€œOne In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One.
-Toms official site
This initiative has now been established for six years. This booklet will investigate the claims that TOMS are being sent abroad and rejected by the very people who the initiative is aimed at. TOMS have become a fashion statement and have been bought by over 2 million people across the globe (TOMS, 2011). But is the balance between style and practicality correct?
The High street Brand
TOMS is now a well known brand which is recognised by millions of people, many of whom know about the charity work behind the brand. As explained in the introduction TOMS has been working for a number of years with the concept of “One for One”. For every pair of shoes purchased, a pair would be given free to one of the forty countries currently being supported by the charity. As of October 2011, TOMS website reports that they have given away over two million pairs of the slip on shoe. This is excellent news for the charity and also means that the company has sold two million pairs of shoes at a cost of £40 a pair. The brand has grown from Blake Mycoskie’s original idea, which only expected to sell 250 pairs and have a positive impact on the health of the children in a town in Argentina.
Rejected (Kawnga) shoes An interview with a charity worker, revealed that shoes which were being sent to Rwanda were being rejected by the recipients who were asking for more practical shoes. shoes which are being sent over are designed and aimed at the fashion “ The conscious young adult whom will not wear the shoes day in, day out and for miles.
Whereas the receiver of the shoes in Rwanda will be wearing the shoes to attain water from a well 10 miles from their house, the “fashion statement” shoes are not capable of supporting Rwandan life. -Ian Elwood, Charity worker for Lss enfants de dieu, 2012
Rwandan people pride themselves on having a high standard of cleanliness, however, in their dusty and rainy climate this is challenging. A canvas shoe like TOMS is not practical in this environment.
TOMS is a fashion brand which has been implemented into third world countries to help fight soil related infections. “Shoes have value beyond being critical for physical health. Many schools in developing countries require shoes for attendance. And some soil-based infections not only cause physical symptoms, but create cognitive impairment too, crippling a child’s long-term potential.” - Toms Official website. The ‘One for One’ concept is all well and good, however, are TOMS doing the job they are meant to? The reason they are being rejected is that they are not compatible with Rwandan life, and in reality more practical footwear is being requested. Charity worker Ian Elwood, observed the preference for second hand training shoes over the TOMS canvas shoe.
The shoes cost more than half the monthly wage for a teacher
The Real Cost
The real world cost for the shoes cannot be justified. TOMS are retailing at £40 per pair which makes TOMS cost more than half the monthly wage for a teacher in Rwanda who recieves as little as £60 each month. Education is a key part to aiding developing countries and charities like Les Enfants de Dieu charity support this educational growth by selling christmas cards for £10 each which enables them to buy two Rwandan to English dictionaries. Are the shoes that TOMS are sending out helping the situation as much as it should? Should they instead give out shoes which are created for the terrene of the countries the charity supports , possibly including the use of local manufacturers.
KWANGA - To be rejected, -Dismiss as inadequate, inappropriate, or not to oneâ€™s taste
A publication to show the imbalance between practicality and fashion