Ethical consumerism is a subject that’s on everybody’s mind. How can we live our best lives and buy things that we can fall in love with, while still helping those who might have less than us?
Thankfully, companies are taking note, offering things like ethical sourcing of materials, zero carbon footprint options, and what we’re looking at today, making charitable donations with every purchase.
If you ask people to name an ethical footwear brand, two names come up over and over. Toms, and Bobs.
So what are the differences, and how do you as a customer choose between them? Our guide goes into what you need to know.
Breaking down the brands
Toms Shoes is the brainchild of a single man, named, confusingly, Blake Mycoskie. When travelling the world, he saw children who lived every single day without shoes of their own, and wondered if something could be done about it.
Toms’ business model is simple. With every sale of one of their pairs of shoes, another pair is sent to a child in need somewhere in the world. On top of this, 1/3 of the company’s profits yearly is also donated to charitable causes.
Skechers own Bobs, and it’s their premier charitable shoe brand. It’s an open secret that Bobs basically copied the idea behind Toms Shoes, but that’s not bad if both companies bring a net positive into the world.
Toms shoes founder has even come out on record saying that he wishes more companies would copy their business model and make more of a difference in the world.
Bobs shoes makes donations to needy children around the world, just like Toms, but Bobs also focuses on animal based charities. In the 10 years since their inception, the brand has donated more than 7 million dollars to animals shelters, helping 1.3 million needy cats and dogs.
What are the differences between Bobs and Toms shoes
At first glance, the range of shoes offered by Toms and Bobs seem pretty similar. Despite starting with very limited designs, (Toms literally started with one type of shoe) both brands now have a decent variety of shoe types on offer, including walking boots, heels, and even more formal styles.
But the vast majority of shoes offered by, and sold by both brands are the same. Low profile sneakers with canvas uppers are these that we’ll be comparing today.
- The upper
Across most of the range, the most common upper material is a light, flexible canvas.
Canvas is a great material for shoes, and it’s incredibly popular with other major names, including brands like Converse, who made their name with canvas sneakers.
Comparing the two, there are very few differences between each sneaker regarding the upper.
- The sole
Continuing the trend, both Toms and Bobs use flexible rubber soles with their shoes, which are comfortable, easy to maintain, and offer a decent amount of grip across most surfaces.
- The footbed
While both Toms and Bobs shoes are relatively light and flexible, that doesn’t mean that they have to have bad support or a thin, flimsy insole.
Toms shoes use a molded textile insole, that’s designed to absorb impact, as well as fight against odors and other issues, meaning Toms are a great shoe to wear without socks. The insole is moisture wicking, and helps to circulate air around the shoe, so they’re comfortable even on hot days.
Bobs, on the other hand, uses Skechers memory foam inserts. These are reasonable quality, and provide a decent amount of support, but like some Skechers sneakers, the shoe just might not offer enough support for some people.
Style and options
So far, both brands have seemed roughly similar, but it’s the availability of different styles where the the two brands really start to stand out from each other.
The single biggest difference is this:
Bobs only make shoes for women. Toms have shoes designed for men and kids, too.
It’s actually hard to overstate how big a deal this really is. After all, if you’re concerned with your environmental footprint, and helping the less fortunate, then your friends and family are also going to be on board.
The ability to buy a quality set of shoes for everyone in the family, from a single place, is an absolutely massive benefit
What customers tend to think about bobs shoes vs toms shoes
A glance across the ranges available online quickly makes it obvious that customers prefer Toms shoes, which are far more popular in raw numbers and sales.
It’s hard to find a pair of Toms with bad reviews. Everything they offer has literally ten times the numbers of the closest pair of Bobs, and the language is all so similar. Basically everyone who buys Toms falls in love with them, and would wholeheartedly recommend them to friends and family.
Toms shoes pride themselves on their charity. It’s the entire ethos of the company, and the single thing that it was all built around.
With that said and done, how Toms help people is easy to understand. For every pair of shoes they sell, they give one pair of shoes away. It’s as easy as that.
Bobs make some similar promises to Toms, but digging in reveals a few interesting things. First off, Bobs, and by extension Skechers, don’t offer the same one for one with shoes sales that Toms do.
What Bobs do instead is make a donation for every shoe they sell. Now, this sounds good, but there’s no guarantee that the money ends up in the right place, and it also means that some of the money might be going to running of companies, etc.
Second is the fact that donations are split between several different charities, which lowers the focus.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to argue with Toms’ model. It’s simple. One set of shoes for one set of shoes.
The overall winner
Given the much larger range of shoes on offer, the slightly higher quality in the way that their shoes are made, and the fact that Toms are the originator of the charitable business model for footwear with a clear and easy to understand benefit, in our eyes they come out on top as the big winner.
This is reflected in everything that we’ve seen others say. Whether it comes to online reviews and customer satisfaction, or just word of mouth, Toms are a brand that everyone seems to love.
Lets put it simply. If you wanted to buy a good quality pair of sneakers while knowing that you’re also helping kids the world over, the clear choice is a pair of Toms shoes.
Bobs shoes vs Toms shoes explained (video)
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Toms and Bobs good for wide feet?
Most, if not all shoes from both brands are true to size, and are only available in a medium fit.
Unless you have especially wide feet, both Bobs and Toms shoes should be fine after a day or two breaking them in. If your feet are especially large, you might consider buying half a size up, and if they absolutely do not fit, both brands do have a money back guarantee.
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