TOMS vs BOBS- A Classic Shoe Dilemma

Image Credit- OhNo!Doom Collective via flickr

I admit that the first time I saw a BOBS ad come on t.v. that my jaw dropped. I sputtered a few times and went “OMG. They just ripped off TOMS! Like, aaaaaall the way ripped off TOMS.” It turns out that I was not alone in my surprise, and displeasure. It isn’t cool to steal things, right? However, as I find myself in search of a new pair of shoes, I’m in a bit of a pickle.

The last three pairs of shoes I have purchased for myself, are all Skechers. Seeing as how they have held up, very nicely these past 5-7 years- I can’t say that I see Skechers in an unfavourable light. However, it’s been 7 years and as much as I am ‘frugal’, all but my pair of boots (the 7 year pair) are making their way to the shoe graveyard. One pair is just… ruined. Done in. Gone. The other pair has apparently folded itself into a shape where it cuts into the top of my toes. Since I walk roughly 3 miles a day, I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that I *really* need a new pair of shoes I can seriously walk in. Which brings me to my dilemma-

What shoes am I buying next?

I’m at that point in my life where I want to make better decisions, smarter decisions, “consumer aware” decisions. I can’t exclude shoes from that list, right? Plus, I have envied myself a pair of TOMS for a long time. I love that they look cute and that while looking cute, that they also do something good. However, doing good isn’t cheap. Have I mentioned that I am ‘frugal’? Well, I am. Being ‘frugal’ makes me baulk and wince at forking over $54. Okay, okay, you can get TOMS for slightly cheaper. Some run around $44. That’s where BOBS comes in.

Perhaps BOBS isn’t all bad. I’ve never really heard about TOMS coming out and complaining that Sketchers is using their exact shoe and business model. Is there a difference between the two? Here’s what I have found-

TOMS-

  • Is careful to avoid negative impact on local businesses (I had heard previously that one reason to not buy TOMS was that it would interfere with local business, so it’s a big point to me that they are doing the right thing here)
  • Stays at a location to continue giving shoes as they are outgrown
  • While they do employ people from China, Ethiopia, etc. no child labor, and ‘fair’ wages
  • Works with ‘giving partners’ so that it’s not just shoes, but a small part of a larger health care initiative
  • Customer reviews all seem to be 4 stars and up
  • Has a vegan line

BOBS-

  • Cheaper
  • Uses “Earth Friendly” Packaging (your guess is as good as mine about what that ACTUALLY means…)
  • Lots of 1 star customer reviews

It’s probably possible that BOBS by Skechers does more to ensure they are really doing a good thing- but if they do, we have no way of knowing. While I love to save a few bucks, I think that this is one of those areas where I’d rather get the real deal than the knock off. To be clear, there are people who boycott TOMS and BOBS on various principles. There are other fantastic socially conscious shoes out there. Unfortunately, most of the ones I have seen don’t meet my need, don’t fit, or simply don’t fit my budget. That shouldn’t stop you from looking though!

It’s true that each company may only be doing to BOGO business model because they are trying to make a buck or $54 off of you. Business is business, and I haven’t found ANY shoe company that doesn’t want to make a profit. I don’t mind coercing people into doing better by paying for it. From my limited amount of research, from what I have tried to track down, TOMS is the clear winner between TOMS and BOBS. Hopefully, I’ll be able to slip my feet into a new pair of TOMS soon ( you guys don’t understand the level of pain I have going on with the pinching in the shoes I have now), but I’ll be keeping my eye on some of those other socially conscious shoe options!

Have you thought about buying ‘socially conscious’ shoes before? What’s your take on the TOMS vs BOBS vs Others issue?

 

 

Image Credit: OhNo!Doom Collective via flickr.com

38 Responses to TOMS vs BOBS- A Classic Shoe Dilemma

  1. ogla says:

    bobs are much better and they last longer and they are thicker, toms are like paper wraped arund your feettoms are really stupid in a lot of people’s consideration and all of my friends do.buy bobs it helps a lot and makes a difference and they are cheaper and better quality. i have 10 pairs of bobs. toms are 60 dollars for a piece of trash that will rip in at least 1 month or if not less.BUY IT!!!!

    • griffgren says:

      ok… no! Toms are way better, i bought a pair of toms 3 years ago and they are holding up awesome! no rips or anything… although my sister bought toms and ripped them within 2 weeks becayse she has this habbit of dragging her toes i guess… but if you take care of your shoes go with toms

    • R Powell says:

      They give out flips flops to kids!!! Not the shoes you buy… Of courses am talking about bobs!!! They are a trashy child labor using company!!!

      • Saundra says:

        How is it with the internet people make such stupid statements. You shouldn’t make statements when you don’t know what you are talking about. BOBS and TOMS give great shoes to under privileged kids… TOMS gives shoes similar to the ones you can buy and BOBS give out a shoe very similar to CROCs… do your research

  2. Cody says:

    Invregards of the previous comment, you are not paying for trash. You are paying for a good cause. I have ordered well over 50 pairs of toms for friends family prizes and personaluse. Bobs saw the capital in using TOMS idea for profit. TOMS was founded on the idea of giving. They are made excellent and the customer service is excellent. I once had a pair of shoes tear about 1 month after I got them. I contacted toms and let them know. Not only did they give me great service they sent me a brand new pair and let me keep the torn ones. I was shocked and simply sewed them and gave them away. Also toms gives you their story from day one and all about their giving trips which anyone has a chances to go on one. Bobs has no story, no cause, just a copycat of s great company. Also check out toms sunglasses. Their new campaign if restoring eyesight with every purchase.

  3. Heather says:

    I’ve been checking out all kinds of Toms style shoes for a few months now. I decided after wearing Target and Old Navy versions, I was ready to fork out some birthday cash for a pair of “real” TOMS. I bought two pairs and brought them home to try out. I wasn’t super thrilled with the fit and comfort of either pair. So, I wandered in and checked out some Bobs. I bought a pair and brought them home to compare. Here’s what I found out.

    The Bobs were a heck of a lot more sturdy and way more comfortable! I put a Toms on one foot and a Bobs on the other and the Bobs had a thicker, more comfortable sole with a cushioned and arch supported insole. They were less snug and overall more comfortable. My teenage daughter who told me she’d disown me if I bought Bobs (she’s a loyal Toms wearer) tried them on and immediately begged for a pair because they were more comfortable.

    Bottom line, I think, is that although Bobs copied just about every aspect of the Toms line, the most important thing for me when buying shoes is comfort and quality, so I’m returning my Toms tomorrow and buying another pair of Bobs with the extra money.

  4. ak says:

    Because Tom shoes are actually made in other countries giving jobs to those in poverty and the first few years of business he to have interns because he was not make a profit giving ashoe for each shoe bought. Not only that TOMS Has a program called a trip to give Where they give people the opportunity to go to other countries and give out shoes. They also have a sunglass line that helps fund eyecare and blindness in third world countries. Just saying there are numerous things that TOMS does better verses BobS. Do your research and that is apparent.

  5. lolly says:

    My sister in law has vought MANY pairs of toms for herself and my neices from high end childrens clothing boutiques over the last 5 yearsd i couldnt believe it when i heard how much she spent when i found out. she coyld pay rhe utility bills but wa paying 50/60 dollars a pair on shoes for kids that were being sold at walmaet and zellers for $10 a pair for years. they arent a special design they look like KEDS shoes fron when i was in junior high school. and every store was accused of copying them then. so big deal if they look similar. a $10 shoe is a $10 shoe. go to walmart and pay what they are worth if its the fact that thy donate a.pair to someone in need in another country is your reason to buy take the other $40 you saved and donate it to a childrens charity closer to home. they need shoes too.

    • OneDayOfPeace says:

      It wasn’t simply that they looked similar- it was that the entire concept, even down to how the shoes looked, the name- was identical.

      As I mentioned in the article, price is a huge deterrent for me. They are a chunk of change for sure. However, when you buy a cheaper shoe, you are also paying for how that company works. Those cheap shoes may be coming with child labor and unfair wages. There’s a little more to the company than simply donating a pair of shoes.
      You might be interested to know that TOMS does donate shoes over here as well!

    • Cheap Shoes for Lot of Cash says:

      The owner of TOMS appeared on the reality TV show, The Amazing Race, before he “came up” with the company. Don’t you realize these types of simple slip on shoes have been made for DECADES in poor countries all over the world??? I used to see these slip on shoes (sans the TOMS label of course) when I was 10 years old visiting Hong Kong. To say that TOMS is unique is not really factual whatsoever. And to say that BOBS is copying really does not amount to anything either. There is no patent or trademark on the design and there NEVER WILL BE because the design cannot be patented. It’s been in existence for WAY TOO LONG, long before they became trendy. That being said, capitalism is fair game and kudos to TOMS and BOBS for taking it and running with it! :)

    • griffgren says:

      the reason they are more expensive is because you are buying two pairs… one for you and one for someone who needs it

  6. wsucram15 says:

    I came on various sites to see the actual difference between the two shoes. I have done my research, both shoe companies do the exact same thing for children, in fact Bob’s is now affiliated with Tom’s on that level.
    Above I found that in a side by side comparison, Bobs felt better. I have to agree with Heather above. I own both and after getting pressure for buying the “Bobs” which are a much more comfortable shoe, I relented and bought a pair of Toms. Now admittedly, the Toms are trendier (mine are personally painted – they look great), but Ive never followed a “trend” so to speak. I bought them because they were supposed to be more comfortable than any other shoe. I completely disagree. I like the best shoes and will pay what the supplier wants for them as your footwear is very important which people tend to dismiss. I tried the Toms on once, never even wore them, unfortunately cant return mine as they are hand painted. If you want a shoe for selection and looks its a Tom, if you want more comfort and durability (its all over the internet) buy the Bobs. They both work together now to donate shoes to the kids-affiliated only in that respect so your support of either shoe will help a child in need.

  7. Danny says:

    So maybe the best option is buy a pair of Bobs for the durability then donate the $5 price difference to a charity that helps kids.

  8. Linda in Texas says:

    I am SO glad I found this article on line, been struggling too with trying to determine the differences, Toms vs Bobs. All said and done, I’m sticking with Tom’s on principle more than anything. IF Bob’s can produce proof and communicate clearly how it’s line exceeds Tom’s sustainable manufacturing and philanthropic endeavors, I might consider trying a pair of Bob’s. Thanks for all the great info.

  9. ujala says:

    i think bobs copied toms but bobs have all kinds of designs and toms only have one color in quality toms are better but in fashion bobs is.

  10. Cheap Shoes for Lot of Cash says:

    My daughter is obsessed with TOMS. But they are “trendy” right now. Sure the concept is great. One for one. But don’t think for a second you fools that the owner isn’t making a killing. This was his 4th or 5th business venture (the others failed like most new start ups do). You start a business to make money. And if successful and you have a whip marketing team, you make LOTS of money. These shoes cost $44 to over $90 a pair. And you give one away???? Wow. That means you manufacture them for $4-5, sell them for $44-90 and your profit margin is like 1000 percent???? Yes, you CAN give away another pair. And realistically you can give away 10 pairs and still make a profit. Just saying!!

  11. tee says:

    Charity aside, I prefer Bobs over Toms. Toms may be for a good cause but the bottomline is, I’m not paying over 50.00 for something that does not last and hurts my feet. Bobs are made better. Thicker and better cushioning. I can get two pairs for the price of one Toms. I can donate to a charity of my choice on my own. Plus there is always going to be knockoffs and look-a-likes. Consumers want choices in their price range.

  12. Jen says:

    I understand that Bobs is almost identical to Toms in every way. For me, it came down to two things. First, I have a latex allergy, and Bobs is latex free. Toms, on the other hand, is not. Second, Bobs were cheaper and occassionally go on sale; so I got a double savings.

    I looked at their Bobs website and found Bob shoes in many styles (not just the Toms look). For example, the Nourish (boat shoe) style is super cute, only $38 (before sale prices), and are socially conscious.

  13. Ariette says:

    Bobs are hands down more sturdy, comfortable, and affordable than Toms. For shoes, I’m looking more for comfort since I have flat feet and I’m constantly on my feet during the day. I’ve tried Toms and Bobs, and I have to say that Bobs are way more comfortable and feel much better. If you’re going for comfort and fit, go for Bobs. If you want the “look”, Toms can be cuter since they have more variety.

    It depends what you’re looking for in a shoe, but I’d buy a Bobs. Lasts longer than Toms. :)

    Ps- totally agree with Heather’s comment.

  14. Jason MacMaster says:

    Just saw the new bobs commercial on tv. They have now donated more than 5 million pairs of shoes to kids in need with most in the USA. How many pairs has toms donated? 1 million??? I support SKECHERS for making a huge difference for kids!!! Especially here on our own soil!!

    • Gelly Belly says:

      Toms has donated 10 million pairs of shoes, not 1 million. Not to mention however many pairs of eyeglasses and other services they’ve given.

  15. alh says:

    Toms are far better….a month ago I wouldn’t step foot out of my NIKE (no pun intended) but my daughter made me try a pair of Tom’s, after I made an error of purchasing the Bob’s brand. OMG The bob’s brand went back and now I own 3 pair of Toms…getting read to purchase another….

  16. Mackenzie says:

    In class a couple of weeks ago, we were having a conversation on advertising and we came to TOMS and BOBS. Almost everybody has and wants TOMS, but I’m the only person with BOBS. I was the first person in schoschool to own a pair and others from different classes had started to follow my lead and purchase a pair. Anyways, my teacher was blabbering on continuously on how BOBS copied TOMS and they are cheaper and worse quality. Everyone in the class was looking at me. I felt very embarrassed. When people first questioned me about BOBS, like “what are they?” “where did you get them?” “arn’t they just copying TOMS?” ” what’s the difference between them?” etc, I told them that I researched for many weeks and tried to two shoes on at the same time, and I just liked the BOBS better. People kind of snoeted in disbelief and jugded me, but I didnt

    • Mackenzie says:

      Sorry I wasn’t finished. People just snorted in disbelief and jugdede, but its not like I didnt expect them to. But honestly, BOBS are more durable and comfortable, but if you are wanting to fit into the crowd, get TOMS. Peer pressure has gotten to me and now I’m purchasing a pair of TOMS. Then when I start wearing my BOBS again people will actually realize that maybe they should try a pair of BOBS. People just want to fit in. I find that it is thr sane issue with the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4.

  17. Molly Marie says:

    I just wrote me a little blog on Toms vs. Bobs too! Personally as a Bobs owner I find them much more comfortable than Toms and while I haven’t owned my Bobs too long at this point I fully expect them to last longer as well. All my Skechers have been great quality and I love their fit. This habit people seem to have of defending TOMS is really silly. Check out my blog if you’d like a different opinion.

  18. wensi xu says:

    Toms has excellent quality, as my experience. And they has One For One policy so it’s not so expensive any more. Anyway there is cheaptoms net shop.

  19. Austin says:

    The classic conversation. Endless opinions. All I say is to each there own, but what I can’t stand is the people who continually say “the shoes cost $5 to make and they sell them for $90!” As if they know it all. Clearly you have never ran a business or know anything about it. Is it possible for the raw materials to cost $5? Possible, but unlikely. Regardless you forget that the mark-up on all goods sold is allowed to cover other business expenses such as wages, leases, advertising, and endless overhead. Maybe look at the big picture or take an intro to business class.

  20. tulipgirl says:

    Bobs!

    1: Bobs are more comfortable.
    2: Toms and Bobs essentially do the same exact thing.
    3: Bobs are cheaper.

  21. alex says:

    Just went online and bought a pair of BOBS. I have heard some negative things about TOMS quality, like they rip easily and what not. Would not of bought anything if my guess flats did not rip holes in my heals…ouch,

  22. Jennifer says:

    A few days ago i was at the mall because i wanted to get toms but tbh i really didnt care whether i got toms or bobs. Me and my dad looked in 7 DIFFERENT STORES and could not find toms. 2 out of 7 stores had bobs. I didnt think it was such a big deal so i just got bobs and their great. a bunch of my friends have toms and their slowly falling apart, Im happy i got bobs

  23. Mel says:

    Bought a pair of Tom’s last week. they are falling a part already. Cheaply made, they have no business charging what they do for these shoes.

  24. Shelly says:

    I don’t get why it’s being a big deal. Toms are the original ones. Bobs are the 2nd. There’s nothing to it. I own 3 pairs of toms and they have lasted for a very LONG time so toms wins.

  25. Meghan says:

    Ok, I just came across this and I have to say that I’ve never been a fan of sketchers anyway. When I saw that they had copied TOMS I wasn’t really surprised. Its a great idea and who doesn’t want to be environmentally cautious these day? Also, the TOMS One For One is wonderful. I have owned both Bobs and TOMS and this is what I have to say: I will stick with TOMS. Bobs just made me feel ‘meh’ when I was wearing them. Personally I don’t see any difference in comfort between the two. I love my TOMS. I am a vegan and I can feel good about wearing my TOMS knowing that they are eco friendly and a child in need gets a pair as well. Yes, they’re expensive but considering the cost to make them and then actually traveling to other countries to GIVE them away, that takes money. I haven’t actually seen proof that Bobs are doing anything close to what TOMS is but either way, I’m sticking with what I know and love. TOMS!

  26. Charlie says:

    Main reason I don’t buy Toms anymore: they have grown huge heads. The main idea behind these companies (besides making money) is to donate shoes to those who need them. Meaning these shoes should be available anywhere so we can help as,any people as possible. Toms only sells to high end places and will not allow their shoes to be sold where more “average” consumers can buy them like famous footwear etc. While they can go online to buy them, I find it wrong to deny the people they are donating shoes to because the stores are not high end enough.

  27. SOnia says:

    I just bought a pair of Bob’s with memory foam. I got them half price ($25) because my husband bought a pair of shoes full price. They are AWESOME. So comfortable! I tried on Tom’s before. Felt like something you’d find in a 3rd world country. And $69 for Tom’s? Uh uh.

  28. bobs are better than toms

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