One of our daughters has asked for a pair of TOMS shoes, but she has no justification when I ask why. “They are cool,” she says, which means that her friends are wearing them and she wants to keep up. “They are really comfortable,” she says, but so are socks, which are cheaper and just as sturdy as TOMS. “If we buy a pair, a poor child gets a pair,” she counters, desperate, as if there is something noble in this.
Buying TOMS is not noble, and One for One is a gimmick, a sucker game.
The average price for TOMS Classic is $54, and $74 for the other, more, um, fashion savvy styles, all of which have that cool label on the back.
What you’re paying for isn’t the label, but what the label represents: “I care more than you.”
It’s like wearing a ribbon for the latest fad cause. We feel better about ourselves and we think we look good in front of our friends because we wear a ribbon, rather than actually doing some actual work to help actual people.
Don’t get me wrong. Shoes are a good idea, and wearing shoes protects the health of children, but these are not good shoes: comfortable, maybe, but only while they last. You couldn’t scuff around in the poor streets of Ethiopia – where the shoes are made, there and China – or Honduras or Zambia for long.
“TOMS has given 1,000,000 pairs of new shoes to children in need around the world,” which is good, but it’s no different from cigarette companies and oil companies and pharmaceutical companies donating tiny amounts of their ill-gotten billions to charity.
The giving is a smoke screen, a sucker’s game. Don’t fall for it.Tomorrow? Part 2….
And When Only A Name Brand Will Do.