Toms Shoes

by | Local (↓) | Democracy (↑) | 2 comments | 2 questions

The comfiest, most cheerful espadrille-style shoe.

Where and how is it used?

Shoes, keeping your feet mostly warm and dry! The company's ethos is to give a pair of shoes to an impoverished child for each pair brought- so through some pretty cool connection, someone else is also 'using' their version of your shoes to protect their feet.

What did you or someone else pay for it?


Why do you want to add it to the museum?

They're a delight to wear and my number one shoe choice (cough, cough.... obsession!!)
It also seems like a pretty snazzy company- their business concept is a not-for-profit, one-for-one exchange. Using the profit to give someone else something doesn't just apply to shoes. Whenever the company also sells eye-wear they use some money to help distribute eye-wear/optical care to those unable to afford. Likewise buying their bags pays for maternal-care training and birth kits. Which- my toms shoe obsession aside- seems like a great idea (even if there is some criticism over distribution)

How was it made?

Is made in a factory

Is farmed

Is mass-produced

Is produced by local cottage industry

Is made to particular specifications

Is craft / hand-made

Is foraged

Is found

Is colonised

Is a service

Materials & Making

Who made or produced your commodity?

Factory worker and cotton farmer

Who was paid to make it?

Factory Workers and cotton farmer (paid by TOMS)

What skills does it take to make it?

Fabric dyeing, cutting, stitching, shaping material and foam

Where was it made?


What does it cost to make it?


What is it made from?

Buying & Owning

Who decides how much it costs?

TOMS company (money re-invested)

Who or what assesses its quality?

Company, Trade audit

Where is it sold?

Originating in California, can now be purchased internationally.

Who or what sells it?

Shoe shops, online

How did this thing arrive from where it was made to where you got it?

In a re-usable canvas bag

Where is it used?


Where is it kept?

Under my bed/wherever I take them off and forget to pick them up!

How and by whom is it cared for?


How long will it last?

Oldest pair currently 4 years (have had to re-dye them myself as lost colour and got dirty)

Where will it go when it's finished with?

Recycled (too worn out for charity shop)

What is it worth?

Sale value £19-£30

How do you and others value this commodity?

See the values contributed by visitors and those of the donor. And add your own values to this commodity.

Total times valued2
Positive (↑)Democracy
Negative (↓)Local
Overall Positive275
Overall Negative-15
Controversy73 (0 = most controversial)

What do these numbers mean?

This data that we have collected over time in our database means nothing without interpretation. A relational database, which we are using here, is technology that enables designers of websites and software to compare, contrast, interrogate and infer relations within data. The act of designing a database is not objective but driven by the agency of its creators and owners.

Within the MoCC Collection data is used to help think through the relations between values, commodities and data. Can we describe our values using sliders and numbers? How do we infer meaning such as controversy from data?

Below is a brief explanation of the some calculations and how these help make decisions about what is shown on the site.

  • Controversy Score:
    (Total Positive Values) + (Total Negative Values)

    The closer the value is to zero the more controversial it is in relation to other commodities. Used to infer that values associated with one commodity divide opinion more than another.

  • Average Value Score (used in the sliders):
    (Total Positive for Value + Total Negative for Value) ÷ Total Times Valued

    Used to infer a collective value associated with a commodity.

How do you value this commodity?

To add your own values click VALUE THIS COMMODITY and move the sliders left and right to add your own values - then click SUBMIT
show donor's original values
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Questions and answers

Help to reveal unknown quantities, properties and uses of this commodity by answering this MoCC curator's questions.

Question: How much do the shoes actually cost to make?


Hi, I'm a Commodity Consultant and managed to find out the following on how much Toms Shoes cost to make:

Mycoskie [Founder of TOMS] is able to produce a basic shoe for about $9 a pair.

Source: The Entrepreneurs - Tom's Shoes & Frontera Foods CNBC Aired at 10:01 PM on Monday, October 26th 2009's_shoes_%26_frontera_foods)/5406/CNBC/Monday_October_26_2009/101705/

by MoCCconsultant on May 7th at 12:23pm

Question: What are the working conditions like?


Hi, I'm a Commodity Consultant and managed to find out the following about the working conditions at Toms Shoes:

Kids don’t make our shoes. Our factories in Argentina, Ethiopia and China are all third party-audited to ensure they employ no child labor and pay fair wages. Source: Toms Giving Report 2013

As we've disclosed previously in our Giving Report, our shoes are made in China, Ethiopia and Argentina. We are aware of the challenges associated with overseeing a global supply chain and our global staff actively manages and oversees our suppliers and vendors to ensure that our corporate responsibility standards are upheld. On an annual basis, we require our direct suppliers to certify that the materials incorporated into our products are procured in accordance with all applicable laws in the countries they do business in, including laws regarding slavery and human trafficking. We also clearly define appropriate business practices for our employees and hold them accountable for complying with our policies, including the prevention of slavery and human trafficking within our supply chain. Source:

Amar is the Director of Giving Operations at TOMS. A large part of his job has been overseeing TOMS’ local manufacturing efforts, including the set-up and opening of the TOMS factory in Haiti. Since our commitment to produce 1/3 of our Giving Shoes locally, Amar has traveled to nearly all of our manufacturing sites to help them stay on track and improve operations. He recently returned from his second trip to Haiti, and was eager to share the progress we’ve made together…

Over the last year, TOMS was able to work with our manufacturing partner, LXJ Golden Pacific to manufacture shoes in Port-au-Prince. A shoe industry did not exist prior in the city.

Going into this tremendous project, I was proud that TOMS would make a commitment to help improve Haiti, and encourage other companies to do the same. We all knew it was going to be a tall order. We faced challenges just about every step of the way — from getting reliable sources of electricity and water, to training a staff that has never manufactured shoes to learning local laws and cultural norms — all to ensure operations ran smoothly every day.

There is no doubt that working in a manufacturing center is hard manual labor. But, no matter where you are in the world or how much or how little you have, some basic principles exist, oftentimes the most important one being the desire to take care of family and give your children the opportunity to live a better life. Source:

by MoCCconsultant on May 7th at 11:57am

The TOMS Supplier Code of Conduct outlines that workers should be paid wages that meet or exceed the mandated minimum standards. We don’t have information on which mandated minimum standards TOMS follows.

TOMS states that all of its footwear and eyewear factories in Ethiopia, China and Argentina are monitored through unannounced and announced third party audits.

TOMS reports that it annually require its direct suppliers to certify that the materials incorporated into its products are procured in accordance with all applicable laws in the countries they do business in, including laws regarding slavery and human trafficking. However, the brand does not have a policy against the use of cotton sourced from Uzbekistan in its products.

TOMS encourages anyone with information on violations of the Supplier Code of Conduct to email them at

In 2013, TOMS committed to producing 1/3 of its shoes in the regions in which it gives by the end of 2015. In December 2015, TOMS reported that the brand has not only achieved this goal, but exceeded it. Since this commitment was made, the brand has created over 700 jobs in Argentina, China, Ethiopia, Haiti, India and Kenya, and employed an equal ratio of male to female workers.

Rank-a-Brand gave TOMS an E, the lowest possible sustainability score.

It is unclear if the brand can trace its supply chain. The brand does not share a complete list of supplier countries or names and addresses.

The brand does not publicly share information about how much of its supply chain it monitors and audits

The brand has a partial list of supplier countries. TOMS states that its shoes are manufactured in various countries, including Argentina, China, Ethiopia, India, Kenya and Haiti. The brand shares brief descriptions of its factories on its website.
Source: Project Just: TOMS

But though TOMS has galvanized millions of customers around its mission, some say that the TOMS model harms the communities it intends to help. Add a troubling lack of supply chain transparency and all of a sudden those warm-fuzzy feelings start to harden. In this week’s Behind the Label, we take a look at TOMS’ sustainability and giving practices to see if the company has earned its position at the top of the social enterprise food chain.

TOMS is also notoriously vague about the origins of its products, the sustainability of its supply chains and the ethical nature of its business practices.

What I do find troublesome, though, is that TOMS continues to create a movement around conscious consumerism and being heard through choices, yet it continues to hedge questions about the sustainable and ethical nature of its manufacturing practices.
Source: Eco Salon: Behind the Label: TOMS’ One For One Campaign

In 2013, TOMS made the commitment to produce a minimum of 1/3 of all our giving shoes in geographic regions where we gave by the end of 2015. Our goal was to invest in creating local jobs to stimulate local economies. As the end of 2015 approaches, we are happy to report that TOMS has not only met, but exceeded this goal!

TOMS manufactures locally in Ethiopia, Haiti, India and Kenya, working with factories that comply with a Supplier Code of Conduct. This Code of Conduct requires them to comply with local laws, along with internationally recognized standards concerning matters such as health and safety, forced labor, child labor and hours and overtime. We monitor compliance through third party audits performed each year and we have dedicated, internal resources to monitor both the audits and action plans of the factories in keeping with the Supplier Code of Conduct.

Ethiopia: TOMS has been manufacturing in Ethiopia since 2011, even taking on the small-scale production of boots for people affected by podoconiosis. Our manufacturers in Ethiopia take great care to provide a range of services to employees, including housing, transportation and meals.

Haiti: With the help of the Clinton Foundation and the support of the Haitian government, TOMS made a commitment in 2013 to help establish manufacturing in Haiti at the Clinton Global Initiative. Just one year later, we opened our doors and to date, we have produced more than 500,000 pairs of shoes.

India: In India, TOMS has produced over 4 million shoes for children in need. We’ve been able to link our manufacturing partner — a family-owned business — with local Giving Partners to see how their product helps others. Experiencing Giving firsthand inspired factory management to improve operations and knowledge sharing, doing everything from lacing Sports Shoes prior to distribution to providing female health training to employees. Additionally, our manufacturing partner in India has exported shoes to Vietnam.

Kenya: Our manufacturing partner in Kenya is incredibly committed to the TOMS mission. Upon producing their 1 millionth pair of Giving Shoes, they celebrated by giving shoes to every employee in the factory. We have also partnered with our manufacturers to address a Giving Partner’s request for a special shoe for children affected by jiggers, a burrowing sand flea that affects people in rural Kenya. Kenya is also the first local manufacturing country where we will regionally export Giving Shoes to neighboring countries like Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa.


Based on our sustainability criteria, Toms Shoes has achieved the E-label. This is our lowest possible sustainability score. Toms Shoes has earned it by communicating hardly any concrete about the policies for environment, carbon emissions or labor conditions in low-wages countries. At least the brand provides some tangible information on the use of environmentally friendlier materials such as natural hemp, organic cotton and recycled polyester. But in general it remains too unclear whether Toms Shoes is really committed to sustainability or not.
Source: Rank a Brand

by MoCCconsultant on May 7th at 1:39pm


Do you have questions about how this commodity is valued? Or want to talk about your own values in relation to it? Share your comments.

Are Toms shoes really an ethical product?

by Daisy on May 7th at 1:48pm

I’VE STUMBLED across an interesting paper, which looks at the economic impact of TOMS Shoes. When you buy a pair of TOMS, they give another pair to an impoverished child. TOMS has come under a fair amount of criticism for what it does, including a bombastic Marxist take from Slavoj Žižek, a Slovenian philosopher.

Economists have also waded in to the debate. Dambisa Moyo, one economist, suggests that aid can end up replacing local markets, thereby hindering development. Another looked at used-clothes imports to Africa and concluded that they provoked a depression in local apparel industries. The latest paper, which looks at TOMS shoes, gives further succour to the naysayers.

The authors, all from the University of San Francisco, focus on the effect of TOMS donations of children's shoes on local shoe markets. They look at the results from a randomised control trial with about 1,000 households in El Salvador, a country that consistently comes in the bottom half of income-per-capita tables.

So to resolve this conflict the authors come up with a simple experiment. All the households were given discount coupons that could be put towards purchases at a local shoe store. But only half were given a pair of children’s shoes at the beginning of the experiment.

Now, the results. In the abstract, the authors modestly report that “find no statistically significant difference in...shoe purchases between treatment and control households.” In other words, it seems, TOMS shoes had no effect on local markets.

But take a closer look at the results and you may reach a different conclusion. In all regressions shown in the paper, the “point-estimate” for the impact of shoe donations is negative. That is, receiving TOMS shoes had a negative impact on future shoe purchases. So while statistical significance is nowhere to be seen, by dint of their consistency the results are reasonably convincing. I'm also wondering whether the authors, who measured the impact of TOMS shoes after only a few months, left enough time for their results to shine through. After all, people don't buy shoes that frequently.
Source: Economist: The economics of TOMS shoes Putting the boot in development Oct 27th 2014, 17:50 BY C.W. | LONDON

Our experimental study among 979 households in El Salvador finds modest evidence to support the hypothesis that donated shoes exhibit negative impacts on local shoe markets. We view El Salvador in many ways as an ideal context to test the impact of in-kind donations on local markets because, although there are many children who do not wear shoes out-of-doors, most children do own two or three pairs of shoes, providing greater scope for finding a negative impact on local markets than a context in which shoe ownership, and hence market purchases, are rare.
Source: Do In-Kind Transfers Damage Local Markets? The Case of TOMS Shoe Donations in El Salvador Bruce Wydick, Elizabeth Katz, Brendan Janet March 12, 2014

by MoCCconsultant on May 7th at 3:45pm

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