The phenomenon started with an ingeniously simple concept: For each pair of shoes purchased, another pair would be given to a child in need. The design was equally simple: a unisex canvas slip-on crafted with a folded toe, so the fabric didn't even need to be molded into shape. Based in easygoing Venice, CA, Toms Shoes spread like wildfire through the bleeding-heart San Francisco Bay Area, across the country, and abroad to places like Japan, Finland, and New Zealand.
At $44 for a basic style, the shoes won't break the bank, and unlike similarly priced Vans or Converse, it's a feel-good purchase, a no-brainer in an era of guilt-ridden shopping. This year, the company debuted its first shoe with — imagine — laces. And now, Toms is going high-end: their glittery holiday collection, priced at $78 to $125, will be sold at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. No word yet on whether the needy child also gets a pair of sparkly silver Toms for each pair of sparkly silver Toms sold!