Toms launches #withoutshoes giving campaign


Today, L.A.-based Toms Shoes kicks off its eighth annual One Day Without Shoes campaign with a new social media twist. Through May 21, if you Instagram a pair of bare feet and tag the photo with the hashtag #withoutshoes, Toms will donate a new pair of shoes to a child in need — no purchase necessary.

The social media campaign is good for up to 1 million posts, with a limit of one post per person. But considering Toms has given away 35 million pairs of shoes since the company started, it’s a significant gesture.

Toms was founded by Blake Mycoskie in 2006. A former contestant on the reality show “The Amazing Race,” he discovered the comfy canvas, espadrille-like alpargatas shoes when he traveled to Argentina after the show wrapped up, to play polo, relax and volunteer. He decided to adapt the shoes for the U.S. market and try to help people too, creating Toms’ groundbreaking (and much copied) one-for-one business model that for every pair of shoes sold, one is donated. One Day Without Shoes was created to bring awareness to the cause of podoconiosis (a disease that afflicts people who don’t wear shoes, causing painful swelling of legs and feet) by encouraging people to see how it feels to go for a day without shoes.


In nine years, Toms has grown to include three other product categories -- eyewear, coffee and as of this spring, bags -- as well as giving opportunities.

The new collection of Toms bags includes colorful Guatemalan-striped cross-body bags, totes, tech bags and clutches, $28 to $298. For every style purchased, support goes to moms and children, specifically in the form of safe birth kits, training of birth attendants and materials for healthful delivery.

For spring, the array of Toms shoes has grown to include ankle-tie espadrilles, sneakers, huaraches and even flip-flops. And the Toms Marketplace area on the website, which features other socially minded brands that give back, is full of festival-ready boho jewelry, tank tops and my personal favorite, watches with beaded leather straps that wrap the wrist multiple times, by L.A.-based brand La Mer.

So it’s as good a time as any to shop for -- or just hashtag -- a cause.