We're often singing the praises of TOMS shoes around here: how comfy they are, how each season brings more exciting trends than the last and how they just seem to go with anything - but let's not forget the other side of this innovative footwear brand. Created with the 'one for one' principle of charitable shoe-giving, TOMS has now reached humanitarian heights beyond its founders' wildest dreams. 

Blake Mycoskie of TOMS shoes

Given the enormous worldwide success of TOMS, it comes as something of a surprise to us to learn that its founder, Blake Mycoskie, had no background in footwear or fashion design before starting the label. Perhaps more surprising still, he had no experience of working in the charitable sector either! What he did have, he claims, is a big heart:   

"When I started TOMS, I knew nothing about shoes.  I knew nothing about giving.  But I knew I needed to help," reflected Mycoskie.  "Over the past seven years, TOMS has grown faster than I ever imagined - and while we learned to give by giving, we weren't doing it as well as we could have.  

But we've listened to our Giving Partners, our customers, our employees, and our critics - and are now doing more than ever to give in a responsible, sustainable way.  We've entered a new era of giving, and in a way for us it's like it's One for One 2.0." 

TOMS shoes gives away 10 million pairs of shoes

TOMS now gives away shoes to needy children in more than 50 countries - but in addition to the shoes programme, the company also funds vaccination programmes, screening to combat malnutrition and eye care. It works with local businesses in the countries where it works to manufacture the shoes and set up sustainable work programmes. 

Pretty cool for a company that makes such simple shoes? And thanks to TOMS team of design geniuses, it's established itself as a modern-day staple that now has a firm foothold in our everyday wardrobe.

Well done TOMS!