The company Toms Shoes is very near to my heart. When I first heard about their one for one campaign, where one buys a pair of their basic canvas shoes and they in turn donate a pair to a child in need, I was sold. Not only are they offering a practical and stylish shoe to boot around town in but they are giving back to the global community, giving back instead of hoarding profits.  I like to believe I am a humanitarian at heart and conscious consumerism is a trend that I would like to see practiced a little more. That being said, when I walked into The Shoe Company the other day and saw a display for “Bobs” by Skechers I was somewhat appalled. Okay — a lot appalled.

Sigh.

I realize I should be excited that there is another company who makes equally awesome and comfortable looking canvas shoes who wants to give back to the less fortunate but I don’t believe completely ripping off an original idea is the way. This whole display seemed to attack Toms Shoes. Firstly the shoes are essentially identical to Toms. Secondly they use a red and blue flag as their logo just like well known the Tom’s white and blue flag that is included in form of a sticker or wall hanging in every shoebox. Beyond lacking any effort put into original shoe design or logo creation they take it one step further to suggest they will donate not one but TWO pairs of shoes to the less fortunate and better yet sell the Bobs for a lower price than Toms!

In a competitive market, this sounds like an obvious move to make as it gives the company the air of being charitable and gives consumers a product they are looking for. I hardly imagine it being difficult for a large company like Skechers to donate large sums of money to the less fortunate, let alone make low cost shoes that commit them to  sending a couple of pairs of shoes to them. The founder of Toms Shoes, Blake Mycoskie, came up with an original genuinely good hearted idea that stemmed from first hand experiences. He put his idea into motion and came up with what is now something great — and now apparently something big corporations feel is good enough to copy.

This somewhat enraging discovery really made me reflect on those that do good because of the meaning behind it and those that do it simply for marketing purposes. I love the fact that people and companies are thinking more about how they spend their money and taking interest in ways to give back but I think that Skechers could have found a way to borrow from the Toms platform and still make it their own — maybe a good start would be to have designed a shoe that doesn’t look completely identical to Toms?

Toms Shoes

Advertisements