The first in the series of our look at Ethical Fashion Companies features Tom's Shoes and their 'One for One' programme of providing shoes to poor communities from the profits of their shoe sales.
As a new fashion brand and socially focused company, Zoonibo are heavily committed to being part of the Fairtrade fashion and ethical fashion movement. In this series we take a look at a number of companies that are leading the way in the fashion industry for making changes in the way the fashion industry operates.
Along the way, we’ll aim to share with you standards and brands that we are looking up to and will discuss why the ethical choices and the work they do behind the scenes is something for us all to learn from and aspire to be part of. At the end of the day, we all know that there are increasing market pressures to bring us new goods faster and more cheaply than before but do we really know where our clothes, bags, shoes and other apparel come from.
Do we know whether the correct amount of care has been taken to be able to ensure the correct sourcing of materials and that suitable standards have been followed in regard to factory workers well being?
In this series we will embark on a journey to teach you how to discover if the brands you love are following these practices, introduce you to new brands that you might not have heard of, and help you make an informed choice that can include style choices as well as ethical choices when shopping.
Toms Shoes – The 75 Million Phenomenon
The first brand that we are looking at is Toms Shoes – Tom’s shoes has a unique story. They started by giving a pair of shoes to someone that needed them, for every pair of shoes that they sold. This is their “One for One” message. To date they have now provided 75 Million Pairs of shoes to people who have low incomes around the world, predominantly in developing nations.
They have now expanded their program into health services and sanitation efforts, such as providing eyesight checks and fresh water. This is a staggering amount of added value that people shopping with Tom’s have managed to pass on to those who need it. 75 million pairs of shoes – Let’s just take a moment to think about that and tip our hats to that phenomenal effort.
However before Christmas 2017, USAToday ran a story based on the US Credit rating company Moody’s report that a number of online retailers were at a higher risk point for defaulting on credit agreements:
“Current Moody's data shows 26 U.S. retail and apparel companies, or 18.6% of the companies it rates in that sector, have credit ratings of CAA or lower. That means their credit is deemed speculative and considered high risk.” Full story here - USA Today - Here are the 26 retailers and apparel companies most at risk in 2018
We believe that the example that Toms Shoes are setting for the industry is superb and we hope that the entrepreneurial and social enterprise spirit of Toms Shoes can propel them out of this group and into becoming a mainstream company for many years to come.
Criticism of Toms Ethics
It's clear if you watch the youtube video above that some people are unfairly calling this a scam in the comments below the video. They have also been criticized by notable figures in Argentina. Whilst we understand that some cynical people see their charitable works as a marketing ploy, it's hard to understand that other people see these effort as negatively impacting local economy. The main argument seems to be that by providing shoes it is putting local shoe companies out of business or putting up unfair competition.
We don't believe this to be a fair representation of what Toms is doing, and this is also underlined by the fact that they are doing the 'Beyond One for One' program that reaches beyond shoes into helping wider in the communities that they work in.
'Beyond One for One' Program
Due to the success of their shoes giving program, Toms have expanded their support into other areas of aid, supporting operations to restore site, give access to clean water and protecting medical complications from mothers giving birth in unsanitary conditions around the globe.
In their Vision program they provide prescription glasses, sponsor Cataract surgery and Trachoma surgery to aid infection in the eyes and have helped to restore the sight for half a million people in 13 countries.
It's hard to believe that in this day and age that nearly 1 Billion people, 15% of the population of our planet, don't have access to clean water sources. Toms have provided 450,000 weeks of clean and safe water via their donations.
Infection and birth complications are a large challenge in developing countries and Toms have donated to support safe births for over 175,000 mothers.
Spread The Word
We are still surprised by the number of people that don’t know about them, and the good work that they do. We think if more people did, they would choose to purchase their shoes from Toms or similar companies with good ethics.
Retail is an area of our lives that presents us all with a choice and with that choice is a power to elevate those companies with values that align with our own and do our bit to make the world a better place to live in. If you agree you can help by sharing this article to spread the word about the good work they do, or simply visit them at the Toms Shoes Website and buy some for yourself or someone you love.