Ethical fashion brand, Toms Shoes has given away it's millionth pair of shoes in Argentina and Marie Claire was lucky enough to be there.
From A-list celebrity wearers to poverty stricken school children, one size fits all when it comes to Toms Shoes.
The ethical fashion brand, founded four years ago by L.A entrepreneur, Blake Mycoskie, 34 has just given away its millionth pair of shoes in a bid to make a difference to the lives of poverty stricken children around the world. And Marie Claire was invited along to witness it first hand.
On a momentous trip to Argentina, Marie Claire’s Features Director, Andrea Thompson, joined Blake and a team of volunteers to distribute shoes to bare-footed children across the North East of the country.
Toms Shoes is based on a simple philosophy, for every pair of shoes it sells on the high street, it gives away a pair to a child in need.
‘When I arrived in Buenos Aires four years ago, I was shocked by the level of poverty I saw and the number of children running around barefoot. I wanted to do something to help,” says Blake. “Four years on we sell our shoes all over America and Europe and distribute free shoes to kids everywhere from South America and Haiti to Ethiopia. Coming back to Argentina was really special.’
Argentina may conjure up romantic images of tango clubs and polo matches but over a quarter of the population live in poverty here with a shocking one in ten surviving on less than a dollar a day.
Typically a child might share one pair of shoes with several siblings meaning their tiny feet are usually calloused and rough by the tender age of five or their toes twisted and bent from wearing ill-fitting shoes.
‘For people all over the world, no matter what their economic level, a pair of shoes gives a sense of pride and represents opportunity and self worth,’ says Blake, pictured below with a handful of the children he has helped.
But the feel-good factor runs both ways, as shoe-drop co-ordinator Amy Carol Wolff explains: ‘Measuring up a child’s foot, personally fitting them with their first pair of shoes, and then watching them run away knowing that you have made a tangible difference to their lives is also very rewarding for volunteers.’
Toms Shoes has now become something of a movement rather than a business and with a host of designers on board the brand has acquired an array of celebrity fans from Demi Moore to Keira Knightly. Even Bill Clinton has a pair.
Read more about the inspirational trip now in the December issue of Marie Claire on sale today.