TOMS vs. BOBS: There IS a difference.

Monday, November 22, 2010

When I hit up Barton Creek Mall with Heidi today, we stopped in the Skechers store to check out some brogues, but this caught my attention:
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These "BOBS by Skechers" looks identical to my beloved TOMS:
tomsbobs
The sales girl at Skechers insisted that BOBS were the same exact shoe as TOMS. In her own words, "The BOBS are made in the same place out of the same materials. We just couldn't use the name TOMS because these are the Skechers brand." To further convolute the TOMS vs. BOBS issue, there was a little note on the BOBS sign that said, "Designed in Manhattan Beach, CA". TOMS headquarters are thirty minutes away in Santa Monica.

All this seems a little, well... sketchy to me. As someone who has several pairs of TOMS, I can assure you that BOBS are not the same quality. The uppers are more flimsy, the soles are thinner, and the insoles are have less cushion. After a little online digging, it seems that Skechers makes a donation to Soles4Souls, a non-profit that gives shoes to needy children. It's not exactly like the One for One business model/ movement that TOMS uses. It's a lot less concrete.

I have nothing but praise for TOMS and its founder Blake McCoskie and senior account exec (and Austin local) Brad Otts. As I've mentioned on here before, I had the opportunity to hear Blake speak years ago when TOMS was brand new. He built his company with a true passion and heart to help the needy. He personally built the brand from scratch. He goes on the shoe drops himself, and every TOMS employee who has been with the company for two years or longer can go on the shoe drops with travel expenses paid, as well. Does the Skechers CEO do the same? Do employees of Skechers personally put BOBS on the feet of needy children?

Fashion design infringement is nothing new. Just ask serial copycats Forever 21 and Steve Madden. In this "do good/ feel good" economy, I can see how a team of folks over at Skechers thought that BOBS were a good idea. Blake himself even said that he hoped other businesses would follow the one-for-one model. No matter if you buy TOMS or BOBS, needy children benefit. But for me? I'm sticking with TOMS. There's only a $2 price difference between BOBS and the Classic TOMS. To me, BOBS and Skechers take unoriginality to a whole new level. Their marketing concept is a blatant ripoff of Blake's hard work and dedication and success of TOMS. Make no mistake about it: Skechers did this on purpose to confuse consumers and painted this one shoe in their vast company as a "charity shoe" whereas the entire TOMS company was built on a one-for-one model, which at the time of its creation was brand new.

[further reading at fastcompany.com: "How Skechers Shot Themselves in the Foot"]
Comment of the Day: "I've been working for Skechers for going on 4 years now, and even I have to admit that when these shoes came in I shook my head and laughed. For whatever the reason, the company thrives off imitations. Although I don't have a pair of TOMS, i've always wanted a pair and agree, I would go for the real thing over the BOBS. In fact one of the girls I work with just purchased her sister some TOMS the other day over the BOBS.

Skechers has since upped their "do good" and now claims they donate 2 pairs for every single pair of BOBS bought. Every time they release a new shoe concept I cringe and wonder who they copied the idea from.
" -Brittany
Update: According to my research, Skechers has been making donations to Soles4Souls before BOBS came on the market. Please understand that Soles4Souls is a wonderful non-profit organization and it's a partnership that makes a lot of sense. Souls4Soles takes shoe donations from companies like Skechers and collects shoes at shoe drives. You can sponsor a pair of shoes for just $1, which is awesome. And if you're Skechers, you can make a tax-deductible donation, piggyback off the success of TOMS, make a shoe that looks just like TOMS, come up with a similar one-syllable man's name, and claim that you're just like TOMS (but better!), too!

[note: though TOMS is an affiliate of this blog, no compensation was given for this or any other TOMS related posts]
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