The idea for TOMS came to Blake Mycoskie while on vacation in Argentina. A modern version of the country's indigenous shoe, the alpargata, it'd be a simple canvas slip-on and for each pair sold, a pair would be donated to someone in need. "It was as simple as that," says Mycoskie who's grown the business into an international phenomenon, won numerous design awards and still prefers to be referred to as chief shoe giver. And while there have been design improvements and variations, this fall, TOMS is debuting the Cordone, a lace-up oxford style shoe which can (and we say should) be worn laceless. We caught up with Mycoskie to talk about the new guy-friendly style of TOMS.
This is the first full-on new design since you launched ... what made you try something new?
I wanted to create a pair of TOMS for the commuter and something he or she can wear in the workplace. Also, we recognized our classic silhouette wasn't the ideal shoe for our consumers tucked in the colder regions of the world, so we wanted to create something for them to wear during the colder parts of the year.
These seem to be a bit easier for guys to pull off. Were some men a little hesitant to try the original style?
The Alpargata appeals to a certain type of guy, but we realized the snug fit of the shoe made some guys hesitant. When we launched the Stitchout, which had a wider sole, we were able to provide shoes for a more masculine consumer. Now bringing in the Cordones, there's something no matter your style.
We're digging the laceless look.
Thanks. I really wanted to make the shoe versatile, and let you choose how you want to wear them.
How often do you and your team consider new styles or try out prototypes?
We're constantly working on new styles, ways to improve the design, all while staying true to our classic silhouette and and maintaining a consistency throughout our products.
Ralph Lauren asked you to collaborate on some styles for the Rugby line. How'd that come about?
I met David, Ralph Lauren's son, through a friend of a friend. About three weeks later, I heard back about a meeting with Ralph Lauren and went back to New York. They expressed interest in exploring a collaboration through the Rugby brand. We launched a Rugby line this summer and you know, it was the first-ever design collaboration for either company.
When is the next shoe drop?
We just came back from a drop in New Orleans and we have two more planned in Argentina, one this month and then we'll go back in December.