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#TomsShoes #RiseandFall #RetailStrategy

January 9, 2020


Toms, the once-hot footwear brand’s story is a cautionary tale for companies reliant on a hero product and narrow brand messaging.

Many fashion brands have a social component today, whether it’s Bombas giving out socks for every pair purchased or Everlane donating proceeds from its 100% Human collection to civil rights organisations. However, when Toms Shoes launched in 2006, the concept was relatively untested. Founded by Blake Mycoskie, Toms makes a slip-on canvas shoe that was an updated version of the classic alpargata slipper silhouette. From the start, the company operated under a one-for-one model, where Toms would send shoes to impoverished communities for every pair sold.

The combination of fashion and charity proved irresistible to consumers — for a while. By 2013, Toms had donated 10 million pairs of shoes and reportedly generated $250 million in annual sales. And though some critics labeled the donations as a marketing ploy, Mycoskie and his company received plenty of accolades, frequently featured on lists of innovative brands. But the momentum proved impossible to sustain. Consumers tired of Toms’ signature style, and the buy-one-get-one campaign lost its novelty.

Toms’ rise and fall serves as a cautionary tale for other brands that hit it big with a hero product out of the gate. Within the Toms story are lessons about how to build on early success, from keeping product and messaging fresh to finding the right retail strategy.

What do you think about the rise of fall of Tomes shoes? Leave us with a comment below!


Courtesy of ‘The Designer

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