Friday, April 25, 2008

The Trouble With TOMS

My boyfriend is slowly becoming a hippie. I don't really mind--who doesn't love Joni Mitchell and recycling?--and since we're Oregonians, I knew it was bound to happen. Sure, it's a bit irksome when we're walking down the street and he cries out with the panicked passion of someone who has just seen Jesus Christ stroll out of Panera Bread, so I say, "What? What??" and he solemnly points to a piece of trash on the sidewalk and then I punch him repeatedly in the shoulder and yell, "I thought you saw Jesus at Panera Bread, damnit!" and he goes, "What are you talking about?" and OK, maybe I do mind a little, but that's beside the point.

The point, right now, is that my hippie boyfriend wants a pair of TOMS shoes. He thinks it's a great company and loves their cause of giving away shoes to kids in need. But he's run into a small problem: TOMS shoes are ugly. Like, this ugly:


I know, I know, hippies aren't supposed to care about ugly (hemp pants, anyone?), and "Own the ugly!" is practically my life motto, but these are just so...psych ward. Seriously, if I ever get fed up with his litter-induced freakouts and decide to have him committed, the state mental hospital would provide him with eerily similar footwear.

On the other hand, a girl in one of my classes last term had a large and colorful collection of TOMS and always looked supercute. They are strangely endearing, like Gary Busey.

So what do you think? Do these shoes scream "colonoscopy patient?" Do you think they're simply adorable? Would you wear shoes made of thumbtacks to help kids in need? Got any alternative suggestions for rad hippie shoes?

54 comments:

hailey said...

I think they're cute in an ugly way. Does that help? Love your blog. :)

neonhamster said...

been a silent reader, love the blog! anyway, i think they're cute...i'd sport 'em. certain colors make the shoes look better than other colors...sorry if that sounds strange. btw, gary busey *is* strangely endearing...i miss his show on comedy central.

constant drama said...

Here's my thoughts....buy them for the kids in need and then overtime they can "mysteriously" dissapear...where too? I dunno. Its mysterious like that.

loyalreader said...

I would tell him to check out simple.com - still hippie shoes, but with a little more structure, ie won't fall apart in the rain, and contribute to environmental causes for about the same price. Then donate some money to Oxfam to support kids in need, especially considering the food crisis in Asia right now. Love your blog as usual!

Kelly said...

just don't try a pair on whatever you do. they're the MOST comfortable things you'll ever put on your feet. it's like an excuse to wear slippers in public.

Anne said...

I say, buy 'em, and send 'em to the kids in need. Then go buy Simples, as the prior poster said. I just got a pair of these:

http://www.zappos.com/n/p/dp/35622189/c/3.html

and I love 'em. Not saying he needs a pair of those, but there are alternative options that he could check out other than Tom's. For outside the house, at least.

Cate said...

those are geriatric house shoes from hell. it's like an elderly ace bandage and a doddering pair of canvas shoes met in a nursing home and produced a miracle baby that wasn't much of a miracle after all. how about something more along the lines of: www.nosweatapparel.com. anything inspired by converse cannot be bad.

i'll subside now.

WendyB said...

And people think flower feet are ugly?!? Hello! Worst shoe evah!

Catie said...

I've been thinking about a really simple pair in red (without those extra semas like the kind shown above), just to slip on when you're trotting around on the weekend and don't want to wear sneakers (and when my flats need a break). The simpler the style, the better. Who needs Vans and Keds when you've got Toms?

Chelsea said...

I think it could work, but only if you convince him to keep the rest of his outfit pretty crisp. Because otherwise he'll just look like he's on the run from Nurse Ratched.

Leisha said...

I think if you're really opposed that loyalreader is totally right. Have him buy a pair of nice, cheaper shoes and donate the difference to a non-profit.

If I may be so bold, the non-profit I work for is collecting money to buy new shoes for the children in our partner orphanage in Northern Uganda. (Local, Portland-based org with kick ass values...www.lahash.net/donate)

Bethany said...

I heart Tom's. My boyfriend, non-hippie, has a pair and I actually think they are rather fashion forward. Simple and sleek. Plus the attention he gets from them, provides comic relief at times and ample opportunities to spread the word on the great cause. You can buy them in Portland at Olio United on SE Water(oliounited.com), where all their close are either ethical produced, locally produced or environmentally friendly.

Thomas said...

Here's a quick test:

Are they Uggs? If yes = UGLY.
If no,

Are they Crocs? If yes = UGLY.

Otherwise, they're probably alright. I think these are fine as slip ons go, and the cause is brilliant.

rachel said...

eeee! i love these shoes! you totally knew i would. every hoof-y shoe post is secretly aimed at me. the colorful ones are so cute, like little shoe bunnies!

ambika said...

Oh my gosh, total psych ward. Granted, your boyfriend looked totally sweet when I met him but I'd punch him too if he wore these.

Erin said...

Haha I dunno they look like shoes my mom would like and while sometimes my mother has fantastic taste in shoes well anyway... very grandma HOWEVER:

http://www.tomsshoes.com/ProductDetails.aspx?CategoryID=7&productID=118

Are my absolute most favorite pair!

lisa said...

They remind me of slip-on jazz shoes.

Anonymous said...

They remind me of the Tim Robbins character in High Fidelity--Not sure if he wore them, but that snarky, pseudo-hippy, could wear these to a trekkie-meets-Reaissance fair weekend event kind of association. Not good.
Donate to children who need shoes or anyone who needs food anyway. Generic vans at Target: Cooler than these and cheap/comfy. Terri

Pamcasso said...

I prefer Vans prison issue for my time in institutions- they have velcro and are sort of a cross between these and converse. However, ugly shoes rock- I'm all about em- but if your boyfriend wants to get shoes for kids that need them, just do that instead of getting more shoes.

CastoCreations said...

Oh dear God those are hideous. They look like the kind of shoes you throw away after wearing once at the hospital. *shudder*

What's wrong with the traditional hippy Birkenstock?

Anonymous said...

i think theyre fineee.
theyre cute in a plain way.
not flashy at all, just practical.
like american apparel esque.

ellie said...

they're really cute, just not in those colors. my guy friends all wear the corduroy and hemp-looking ones, or the more colorful ones. and they're not even hippies, they're texans.

hope505 said...

Y'know what *might* help these shoes...? If they were leather or suede. But I agree with you = ew! sign me up for this afternoon's lobotomy!

Sucker For Marketing said...

I've said it once and I will say it again: Good cause DOES NOT EQUAL good fashion.

chewBEKAH said...

uhmm..maybe if he got them in the other colours...but UGH they just look a little flimsy and the toes are an awkward shape..I have NO idea why but they remind me of the grudge.
but uhmm..ultimate hippie shoes:BIRKENSTOCKS! okay, okay they're sandals, but sooo comfy and german made (woo woo!) and everyone has a soft spot for birks (well, around where I live)..get the classic two strap dark brown ones
and if he wants to help the world, just tell him to get some product (red) or livestrong or mondonation or other popular woo world merch

Lily said...

Simple shoes are for hippies, and Terra Plana. More expensive than these, but seriously better-looking.

emmag said...

I tried but I just can't get on board with these for grown-up type people. Eeeeugh.

But did y'all check out the 'tiny Toms'? Precious. Even ugly things usually look pretty cute when shrunk.

lndsyprtn said...

They look very comfy but I think that my G.ma Peggy wears and owns at least 3 pairs of these shoes...

That said... I would wear them in the security of my own home.. in the dark... under alot of blankets in a locked room...

- That One Lindsay Grl

Melisa said...

They do scream psych ward...but they are also the type of shoes that I'd wear just to make people take another look and possibly ask questions about, which could be a very good thing.

Eryn said...

moccasins. :)

umm. Tevas are popular down here (you can find cheap brands). those are sandals though.

i would mention birkenstocks except everyone in oregon knows about birkenstocks, and they're so damn trendy and expensive now.

my friend has a pair of shoes with toes. I don't know what they are though.

Anonymous said...

Toms...eh, they're alright; I don't know if they'd hold up well though. I'd say that they're worth a shot, purely out of curiosity.

Oh wow, I'm reading Daddy Likey and Perez Hilton at the same time, and the Chocha gods are shining down upon me! Take a look at this:

http://perezhilton.com/2008-04-25-a-little-bit-of-vag#respond

Wow. Just wow.

Loving the blog, as per the usual. =]

xx Em

Queen Michelle said...

Look. Being a hippie, giving to good causes, yadda yadda yadda, all very commendable, but lets get to the nitty gritty - do you want to walk about with your BF wearing those pieces of crap? Unless he gets handy with some acrylic paint and customises them, then I suggest he just give good old fashioned money to the charity, or some shoes, and buy him self a decent pair that won't make you want to cringe everytime you step out in public.
No. Just, no.

Anonymous said...

So I read this post about Toms while getting ready for work yesterday morning and I thought, huh, I'm not sure I've ever seen those. Then, that evening while working out at a gym (in downtown Portland) there was a girl RUNNING on the treadmill next to me in them. It not only looked super painful, but they were the white Toms and they definitely looked like psych-ward slippers. This lady was, however, probably the strongest and most fit person at the gym - perhaps running in them is the secret to fitness success?

Sara Darling said...

how expensive is it to give shoes to poor children? why not buy attractive, durable, classic shoes (more eco-friendly in the long run, and cheaper, rather than buying many cheap flimsy shoes every few months) and then give actual money to whatever charity floats one's boat?

but I do understand the desire to be crunchy.... fluevog does crunchy:

http://www.fluevog.com/code/?w=attribute:Green/Enviro

Jenna Rocca said...

I think they are gorgeous. Does that make me mentally disabled? Maybe not appropriate for a man, though. I think I'm actually going to buy myself a pair.

Kate said...

first off, love the blog!

so, i love the tom's but acknowledge their complete hideosity.
for totally sustainable man-shoes, look at www.simpleshoes.com. I especially like the "Toemorrow" and "Loaf" shoes for a guy.

p.s. they have effing adorable (and equally earth friendly) womens shoes. Look at the "Toe Stir" shoes with ankle straps....

Liz said...

those are horrible. try veja's (www.vejas.fr). they free-trade/organic and actually really cool.

rere said...

Too bad these 'flower power' Toms I found via google image search seem to be no longer available. They would have been perfect!

http://freshpeel.com/2007/08/toms-shoes-design/

(I actually love these. I'm not really sure whether Toms would look too schleppy on big feet or not though.)

Brittney said...

Love Toms. Love Winona. A good hippie shoe company is simpleshoes. www.simpleshoes.com. A little more pricey but worth it.

dreamecho said...

i like them.

actually, this story of your boyfriend becoming a hippie reminds me of my own bf's descent -- um, i mean, ASCENT -- into reggae-hippie-ism several years ago. he started growing his hair out and wearing crocs. now, i didn't mind the crocs (honestly), but i had to wonder, "where is this all going?"

fortunately, it all worked out in the end. keep the faith ;)

Ruby Fuerza AKA Lucille Brawl said...

there is actually quite a bit oh history to these shows. they are called alparagatas in spanish and are massively popular in argentina. they are usually about USD $3 and are sold in cheap shoe stores, pharmacies etc. they are perhaps the most democratic element in that country - everyone wears them, regardless of social status. they are more popular with the older generation but it is not uncommon to see them on college kids. the style gets its roots in the pampas as they are modeled after the footwear of the gaucho, argentina's version of the cowboy. i hated them at first but now i wear mine all the time for purely sentimental reasons.

so now ya know!

xx

suzy. said...

i don't know about for your honey...but i love the gold sequined toms i found on their website.

and as for hippy shoes, i think these are a good compromise. i know lots of gay men that wear them and call it bohemian!

Sales Rack Raider said...

The toe part just looks really strange. It's not so apparent on the gray pair, but the awkward bulge is painfully obvious on the white. But then again, the gray one isn't all that apparent, while the white pair screams "hey, look at me!" for people who are into that kind of a look.

I guess some people can make it work, but I'm guessing there's only a select few of them.

Anna said...

I'd totally punch my boyfriend if he wanted a pair.

hope505 said...

SIMPLE
Just a note to those who have posted about SIMPLE shoes...I used to really like them too, but the pair I just bought has the dreaded "made in CHINA" tag on them.
Still cute, but probably not the friendly, hippie shoes everyone is imagining. Just sayin'.

milliebunny said...

okay. i think they are pretty darn ugly. but all hippie shoes are ugly, aren't they?
and doesn't nick see the obvious marketing ploy behind tom's mission? it's like how every single company on the face of this planet makes something pink and then donates like, five cents to breast cancer research. it's called "brilliant marketing."
why doesn't he buy a pair of nice, respectable-looking shoes and then take it upon himself to donate a pair of shoes to needy kids? i guess passersby wouldn't be able to point nick out as a selfless humanitarian. but that's not the point--or is it?
i don't mean to sound too cynical here. indeed, more companies should follow tom's example. the world would be a better place. and hey, sales would go up too.

milliebunny said...

oh my god i just re-read my post and i sound like an old bitter hag! i'm not i swear. but i still stand by what i said.

Elisabeth said...

My mom has these ... with purple polka dots. OH YES, purple polka dots. I thought she was a nut at first, but they're growing on me. And they're incredibly comfortable ... not that I've tried them on ... in several colors ... or anything.

P.S. Tom himself is kind of hot. Just saying.

Elisabeth again said...

Oh, I guess his name is actually Blake. Then why aren't the shoes called BLAKES?
I'm tired.

Bexxx said...

my god! is no one going to mention the metalic GOLD and SILVER TOMS??

Martin would have a FIT.

threadsforevie said...

You are so funny. Love your blog. Hate those shoes.

Righteous (re)Style said...

I would like to come to the defense of hemp pants. There are all kinds of beautiful clothing being made out of hemp! Like Viridus Luxe. Awesome. http://www.viridisluxe.com/index.html

Mary-Kate Hopkinson said...

Not that this is offering anything in the way of newness, but I'd like to throw my lot in with the Toms lovers. I bought the silvery glittery ones and love them to death. So comfortable. I might just get another pair, maybe in red or polka dot. A great casual summer shoe, no? Love love love. I may get my boyfriend a pair, too, now that you mention it.

Amanda said...

No no no, not psych ward. More like martial arts master. Have you ever watched any of those old Kung-Fu flicks from the 70s from China, where they actually filmed all of their fight scenes in a continuous take and some real injuries occurred during filming?

They wear shoes like that. Just have him dress in a gi with a wide obi all the time, and these will look totally natural.

I know, REALLY helpful, right?

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