TOMS Shoes' Blake Mycoskie on Spring 2010 and Beyond

One for One: Blake Mycoskie

TOMS shoes is a footwear company unlike any other in the world. Founder Blake Mycoskie has pioneered the One for One giving model — for every pair of shoes purchased, one pair will be given to a child in need. To date, TOMS has given away well over 150,000 shoes via the company’s volunteer-based “Shoe Drops” in South America and Ethiopia. RWH had the opportunity to speak with Blake at the spring 2010 press preview, in which he shared with us the mission of TOMS and discussed the inspiration behind the new styles.

Julia DiNardo for RWH: This is amazing; I feel that what you’ve done overall is just so incredible, and such an interesting business model. Tell me a little bit about the new style, when are you going to go on another shoe drop, what you are really excited about, etc?

Blake Mycoskie: I’m really excited about our work in Ethiopia, I just got back from three weeks [there] and it was amazing. The new style with the laces is really fantastic, since you can wear them in the fall and the winter, and one of the biggest thing with TOMS is people giving them to others as holiday presents, so its really nice now to have something that has laces or high tops (the TOMS Botas shoes), and warmth, so that people can give it during the winter and wear it right then instead of having to wait until the spring to wear it. So I’m really excited about the holiday, and having more and more people giving TOMS. Our next Shoe Drop will probably be in January; TOMS as a company is going in December to Argentina, but I’m going to take December off and have a real vacation. (RWH: I think you deserve it!) But like I said, our work in Ethiopia is really exciting, since I just got back I feel very refreshed in terms of the giving side.

RWH: Have you had increased interest in people wanting to participate in the Shoe Drop?

BM: Yeah, we have a big wait right now for people who want to come on a Shoe Drop, and we’re hoping that we can service that, eventually. So, it’s really exciting to see that people want to actually help us and volunteer, and don’t just want to buy the shoes but want to get involved.

RWH: Have other people come up to you saying that “you’ve inspired me to develop a similar business model”? Probably all the time I bet!

BM: Yeah! I’ve heard lots of ideas, not always a one-for-one model, but businesses that give back in a meaningful way, so that’s been really exciting. I speak at a lot of universities now, and so usually when I am done speaking people come up to me all the time, and it’s just really cool.

TOMS Cordones S/S 2010RWH: As far as the new style goes, I read that it is inspired by Argentine poets. The original shoe was basically derived directly from the worker’s shoe, so for the new shoe, the Cordones, what was the inspiration for it?

BM: If you look at the shoe I am wearing <points to his dark brown Cordones> it reminded me, as I was designing it, very much of a classic Oxford school shoe. So it all started around this idea of school, and giving kids the shoes that allowed them to go to school, so we were all about this idea of back to school, we launched it in the fall, etc. So it was all around school and education. Then, when we were naming them, we decided to name them after famous Argentine poets.

RWH: That’s awesome! Do you have any ideas or things already in development for future styles that you may be able to reveal?

BM: Well, really right now, we are focusing on just the ones that we just came out with, because it’s really a lot of new stuff for us. RWH: Yeah, I saw the wedges, those are great! BM: Yes, the wedges will be coming out next summer, so that’s pretty far out (time wise), so we have a lot of ideas of what we want to do, but this is a pretty good amount right now – I don’t think we will do a lot more, other than this, for at least a year or two. I think this is going to carry us on for a while.

TOMS Wedges S/S 2010RWH: I know that you’ve been doing more and more designer/artist collaborations (Tyler Ramsey, Gabe Lacktman, Digg, Brandon Boyd, Element)- is there going to be more of that coming out?

BM: Possibly; because we launched this new thing with Neiman’s (Marcus) and Bergdorf (Goodman) (exclusive colors, prints, and patterns for the retailers), we decided for this season to hold off on those, and really focus on the new retail partnership.

RWH: And as far as the wrap boots go, I see that there are more colors, so were you getting a lot of requests (for new colors)?

BM: We were selling so many of the red, black, and brown (boots), we thought that grey and navy are such great colors for the season that we would add those as well, and it’s going really well.

TOMS Boots S/S 2010More Wedges

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