Toms' Blake Mycoskie on The Row, the Spring Line, and More


Photo courtesy of Tom's

The Olsen/TOMS collaboration, on sale in August

By now you know Blake Mycoskie. If not by name, then by shoe. He's the mastermind behind TOMS, the shoe/social-shopping movement that's taken the world by storm. The casual slip-ons (and the response from consumers) have sparked a charitable revolution, with other brands following Mycoskie's lead.

The new Spring collection—based on the journals of the late photo journalist Dan Eldon, who was killed on assignment in Mogadishu—have recently landed in stores, and a new collaboration with The Row was announced last month. Mycoskie took time to answer some of FashionEtc's questions about the new collection, collaboration, and more.

How did The Row collaboration come about?

We heard Ashley was a fan of TOMS and we're humbled by her support from afar. We then received a call from The Row wanting to brainstorm ideas on how we could collaborate, and it's finally come to fruition with this exclusive collection.

Their shoes are decidedly more upscale.

There is a higher price point [for this collection] due to the materials that make up the shoes.

Is this a move to a more luxury line [within Tom's]?

Since our beginning, regardless of what the price tag indicated, luxury has been a part of TOMS. Because when you think about it, luxury is about self-fulfillment. We've often wondered what the luxury of giving might look like on TOMS, as TOMS.

Are there more collaborations coming?

You'll just have to wait and see! We're always looking for brands who we can align with and partner with to get more shoes to children around the world.


Photo: Kwaku Alston Photography

Blake Mycoskie

How did you come up with the Dan Eldon concept?

About a year ago, I was packing for a surf trip to Costa Rica and stumbled upon Dan's book. As I pored over the book on the plane, it struck me that the TOMS community should know Dan's story and that his life and journals would be a great inspiration for a future collection. Dan really was ahead of his time in many ways.

How does your new collection reference Eldon's work and journals?

Four styles from our Spring Collection feature direct prints of Dan's artwork on canvas. These include his well-worn passport thumbprint; his iconic painted faces, playful elephant illustrations, and his famous motto “The Journey is the Destination.” I really hope this collection inspires people to follow their creative dreams and use their talents to become a creative activist like Dan—transforming  bold ideas into positive action.

Did you find it challenging to do this collection? It seems like it was a very personal journey for you to do this one.

Not at all. What’s challenging is staying true to the person who inspired us, and I believe we have done that.

Do you have new styles or colors for spring?

This is the first time direct inspiration (Dan's journals and the safari approach to life) is reflected in an entire collection. For Spring, safari tones and patterns are showcased on the shoes themselves, and some styles even feature direct prints of his artwork on canvas.

I love the Wrap Boots. They have a very…Helmut Newton vibe to them, without being scary. When did you start doing those?

I love the Wrap Boots too! TOMS first launched them Fall of 2007. They're a great alternative to our classic silhouette, versatile, and comfortable (or so I'm told!).

You've been instrumental in the concept of socially conscious shopping taking off and becoming as popular as it has. How do you feel when you see Payless or Skechers doing the same thing as you and with a very similar design?

At TOMS, giving isn’t a trend, or a fad, or a part of our business—it is our business. We’re proud that TOMS has inspired a global movement, and continues to influence other companies around the world.

What other plans do you have for 2011?

One of our biggest initiatives of the year, One Day Without Shoes, is just around the corner on April 5. This is the day where we raise awareness of the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child's life. So, do what you normally on April 5, just without shoes, so kids don't have to.