October 14, 2010

Toms vs. Bobs: Copying for a Good Cause?

From the looks of other gals' blogs (and feet!), I may be the only girl who doesn't love TOMS shoes. I don't love their style or shape; I don't even love their "must have" sequined edition.
I do, however, adore TOMS' one-for-one business model, which donates a new pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair purchased. It's an ingenious mix of fashion, corporate responsibility and philanthropy.

(Side note: TOMS' founder and chief shoe giver, Blake Mycoskie, is a debonair young entrepreneur who was scheduled to speak at a conference I helped promote. Sadly, he backed out rather late due to his commitment to sail a plastic boat to Australia. Seriously, that's what I was told.)

I'd rather donate the purchase price of a pair of TOMS than wear them, as they just aren't my style. That said, I'm impressed by how many people have bought into (no pun intended) TOMS' vision and allowed the company to become a success.
It seems Skechers is equally impressed, as they have come out with a BOBS line of shoes. Similar look and identical business model: buying a pair of BOBS will also enable a child in need to own a pair.

I can't decide if this is distasteful, my gut reaction, being an exact copy of TOMS down to the name. On the other hand, more shoes for underprivileged children can't be a bad thing, can it?

What do you think? Do you own/love/support TOMS? Would you buy a pair of BOBS, even if they seem like a knock-off, to support the cause?


Unknown said...

I agree - I just can't get into them. I tried a pair on and just don't like them. I do love their business model!

BelleinBows said...

I am with you completely. I love the fact that they donate a pair of shoes, but there is not one thing I like about the actual shoe.
BOBS? hmm, imitation is a form of flattery, but not in the world of business.

User Not Found said...

I have two pairs - and not because of the business model (even though I think it's super cool that they donate shoes to those in need)! I have the natural canvas pair and the gold glitter. They've been great flats for the pregnancy! But I wouldn't buy the BOBS... they're trying too hard.

Maggie said...

TOMS are hideously ugly to me, but I adored the wedges that came out last season. As you say, the business model is impossible to refute - amazing stuff there.

melissa said...

I'm with you - ugly shoe, but fantastic business model. I'm not sure why Sketchers would so blatantly imitate though. Why not donate a different looking shoe with an original name?

Perfectly Imperfect said...

I love the concept, but those shoes are hideous. I just can't do it. I'm like you, I'd rather just donate the money!

Stephanie said...

I am with you -- they are some of the ugliest shoes I have ever seen. Love that the company is doing so much good though and giving back to those in need.

Whitney said...

I love TOMS. I have 6 pair and Brad has 1. He wears his more than I wear mine!! I love the business model. Although that was the main selling point, I still love the look of TOMS.

I do not like that Sketchers is blatantly copying this business model and shoe. It seems kinda rude. Ha! But for the most part if you're going to buy the shoes then most people will probably go with TOMS as they may feel Bobs are a "rip-off" and also unless the price is so much cheaper then they'll definitely just stick with TOMS.

Unknown said...

People might buy two pairs of compassion shoes, supporting both companies instead of having to choose which company to buy the exact same shoes from. Now they are just copycats.

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