Saturday, April 9, 2011

My newest obsession.... and the evil that is Sketchers

I don't really obsess over things ever. I maybe get excited about something, but very rarely does it reach what I would consider an obsessive level. However, I am proud to admit, I am obsessed with TOMS shoes. I have had one pair of TOMS for quite a while, but I just got a second pair and a TOMS shirt and I want to spend my entire paycheck on TOMS. I have already decided that TOMS are going to be a footwear staple wherever Peace Corps sends me. If I can't wear TOMS, I won't go!

Someone asked me what's so great about the shoes, I mean they are simple canvas shoes. I love the shoes themselves, they are very comfortable and I love the way they look, but its the mission of TOMS that I am obsessed with. I love the One for One concept. Paying $45 for a pair of shoes is no big deal for most Americans. Why not be able to help someone out while getting some retail therapy (as a side note, I really kind of hate shopping, so retail therapy isn't a big one for me). I love that there are companies out there who are so focused on social change. That is exactly the kind of company I would LOVE, and hope to someday, to work for.

So I started writing this post earlier and this past weekend my obsession has become even more clear. I was up in the cities with a friend and we went to Mall of America to look around. I was, of course, wearing my TOMS and even had one my TOMS shirt. As we are perusing the shoes, I come across a pair of Sketcher's BOBS. I look at the shoe for a moment, then drop it on the floor next to my TOMS to check it out. The shoe is identical in almost every way. The fabric is cut the same, there is the same style of tag on the side of the shoe, and even a blue and white striped label on the back of the shoe by the heal. I immediately become infuriated. Is Sketchers really that lame of a company that they can't come up with their own idea- they have to copy another company's work? My friend pulls me away trying to diffuse my anger. As we walk a littler further down the aisle, I can't get it off my mind. I keep commenting about it. I look back- stupid shoes. We walk a little further in the store and my eyes drift back to those shoes again. I give them the evil eye (for some reason I must have thought the people at Sketchers would know I was mad at them if I did that and that no one would ever buy a pair of BOBS). I see a lady approach them and is giving them serious consideration. I tell my friend that I want to go over there and tell her not to buy them. How can she even consider buying them- they are clearly a knock off? Lindsay grabs my arm and tells me we need to leave. I think she knew there would have been a fight and those shoes wouldn't have won.

There have been lots of articles about how Sketchers copied TOMS. One article sums it up nicely, saying that its great that more companies are considering the One for One model of business, but the only "why" behind this that I can think of is its a corporate gimmick; try and sucker people into believing its the real deal when really, BOBS are nothing but impostors. I doubt Sketchers has people as passionate as Blake Mycoskie and the rest of the TOMS family working for them. Look at the shoes and tell me BOBS isn't a fraud/copycat.


  1. I love my TOMS too, but I think the one-for-one model is a great example of poorly executed good intentions. Here, take a look:

  2. Hi! That video was quite interesting. I don't think anyone would disagree that there are more valuable needs in communities around the world (probably why those reading these blogs are joining Peace Corps- to help share the skills they have obtained living far more privileged lives). Simple fact is shoes are available in every country, however they are not accessible to the people TOMS is serving. They are expensive and families are needing to spend money on food, water, and other basic necessities instead of on something that is often deemed a "non-essential". Before doing a shoe drop, TOMS spends a lot of time researching the area to do one in. They work with local agencies and people to determine the need as well as the impact on the local economy.

    On June 7th, TOMS is opening their secret box to announce what their next One for One will be. Many speculate it will be something such as water, eye glasses, or personal hygiene products. Perhaps those items would be more necessary than shoes- that's up for debate.

    I really like the One for One movement because it is getting people who wouldn't think twice about helping someone less fortunate to do just that. And while I am supportive of this model, I know there are other organizations that do far more good by working to provide education and skills to the less fortunate, which will in turn potentially lead to more jobs in country. The video said "If you need to do something tangible, start in your own backyard". Participating in a program, such as Peace Corps, that works on improving the quality of life for others through education and transfer of skills isn't possible for many people, so something like TOMS is allowing them to help in a more local fashion.

    Reading your comment and watching the video makes me wonder how Blake Mycoskie, TOMS Chief Shoe Giver, would respond. I am going to post it on his blog and perhaps he will choose it to be the question of the week to answer.

    Thank you for providing another picture of how companies who proclaim to do good can have poorly executed good intentions.

  3. I'm glad to hear they do their research; that makes me feel much better about wearing my TOMS. Although I still can't see myself investing in another pair. Unless they move their production operation to the communities they're trying to benefit. That could be awesome.

  4. Actually, TOMS are manufactured in Argentina, where the idea all started, China, and Ethiopia. They also have strict standards that manufacturers must adhere to in regards to human rights standards. (

    I just came across this too: TOMS has giving requirements. (
    1) Giving partners must be able to work with the same communities in multi-year commitments, regularly providing shoes to the same children as they grow.
    2) Shoes must aid Giving Partners with their existing goals in the areas of health and education, providing children opportunity they would not otherwise have.
    3) Providing shoes cannot have negative socio-economic effects on the communities where shoes are given.
    4) Giving Partners must be able to accept large shipments of giving shoes.
    5) Giving Partners must only give shoes in conjunction with health and education efforts.

  5. Hahaha okay okay I'm convinced. You should probably just work for TOMS after you're done with Peace Corps.

  6. I would LOVE to...but then so would a few thousand other people!