Shoe Review: TOMS Black Canvas Cork Strappy Wedges

After some positive feedback from my recent post on the Clarks Ashland Alpine shoes, I learned that, shockingly, women are more interested in reading about shoes than men. So I figured that there could be a substantial niche at PRAKTICALA for content targeted at women.

It just so happens I have these Black Canvas Cork Strappy Wedges from TOMS that I think you people might be interested in. Hey I won’t fight against the basic laws of economics. Supply and demand!

I have always been personally indifferent towards TOMS. The girls I know who wear them love them, but they always seemed rather drab and overpriced to me (the shoes, not the girls). Yoselin from 6 Mono Media used to wear a pair of plain black TOMS almost every day for so long that I’m pretty sure they were in a state of partial decomposition until I finally made her throw them out because I didn’t want my house invaded by guys in hazmat suits.

Her birthday recently passed and she demanded that I “surprise” her with a pair of cool new TOMS. Being a good husband, I obliged the birthday request.

Apparently this guy hikes mountainous terrain in freezing weather. Whilst wearing TOMS, I’m sure.

First, I grabbed a replacement pair of plain black TOMS that seem to be the staple shoe in every woman’s closet. They match with anything – flat soles, unassuming, yet instantly recognizable in appearance – you can wear them to work, to run errands, or to hang out with friends.

“I” also added to my cart a pair of fancy-schmancy wedges. What? I shouldn’t have been surprised that TOMS carries all kinds of shoes given the fact that my MBA team and I wrote a case study on their business model and marketing strategy, but I just always pictured TOMS as those boring, expensive, trendy hipster shoes that girls pretended were comfortable so they could look cool.

It is no secret that TOMS has come under a lot of scrutiny for their “one-for-one” giving model, which I’m sure you’ve heard of, and how philanthropic the company really is (or isn’t).

I look at TOMS as shoes. The fact that they supposedly give away a pair of shoes to a needy child with every purchase is a nice bonus/sentiment, but if that’s why you buy them, the justification is rather murky. Hence my impression of TOMS as overly simple and overpriced.

After this birthday fiasco, while I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a TOMS believer just yet, I do see that they have a broad lineup of pretty interesting footwear for women (I won’t comment on their shoes for men).

But will they?! The world may never know.

The Black Canvas Cork Strappy Wedges are very cool looking. Yoselin hates (and I mean HATES) wearing heels, but conveniently found these to be “so comfortable.” I have indeed heard that wedges are less painful to wear than heels, although I cannot verify this for myself.

What I do like is the visual quality of the shoe. The design is attractive. The canvas and metal buckles give the shoes some intriguing texture. The soles are real cork, not the ridiculous printed crap you find on cheap shoes. No word on whether they will last in the real world though. No leather or goodyear welting here folks!

At 69 bucks a pop, they aren’t cheap, but you could pay a lot more for crappy “designer” shoes that aren’t as good, and also don’t even pretend to give shoes away to needy children.

Fine, I’ll bite.

A note on the sizing: according to Yoselin, this particular model seems to run a half to full size larger than normal TOMS. Yoselin ordered her usual TOMS size and found that they were far too big. A full size down fit her much better.

Happy birthday.

What do you know, she loves walking around in them. These are great shoes to wear to a wedding or special event, or even to work if you normally get kind dressed up for your job. Added bonus: she looks good in them. Hooray! Happy wife, happy life.

PROS: Good visual design. Nice detail and texture. Good-intentioned (but ambiguous) business model.

CONS: Not cheap. “Trendy.” Does not look particularly durable.

You can get the canvas strappy wedges from TOMS by clicking here. And guess what, you can use the promo code TOMS5OFF to get five bucks off your total!

Gratuitous image of puppy with TOMS shoes.

Ladies, you probably love TOMS, right? Tell me why in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Shoe Review: TOMS Black Canvas Cork Strappy Wedges”

  1. BOO. NO. TOMS IS THE WORST. They destroy local economies with their supposed “shoe drops”, and don’t actually donate a pair of shoes unless you fill out a form that they don’t tell you about anyway (which is a good thing if you understand anything about systemic poverty).

    Here’s my biggest qualm about TOMS: If TOMS wants to call themselves a “socially conscious” company that makes a positive impact in people’s lives, then it needs to become transparent about why each shoe needs to cost as much as it does, what exactly is going into making these shoes, and how much Mr. Blake Mycoski himself is making in convincing guilt-ridden first-world Americans that they can feel less guilty about buying a $50 pair of cloth shoes by labeling a purchase of TOMS shoes as “doing social good.” The company needs to stop justifying its shoe prices with the fact that it is “going to help a child in need,” because that is just pure bullshit. If there was ever anything that fell under the category of the most heinous injustice, it is this: to USE the poor and orphaned as a way to make oneself (and even other organizations associated with TOMS) look like a hero, while not only raking in millions, but also adding onto the systemic problem of poverty. It is an absolute travesty of justice. If TOMS is going to sell shoes, then JUST SELL SHOES AND SAY THEY’RE GOOD QUALITY AND MAKE MONEY OFF OF YOUR BRAND NAME. I WOULD GLADLY PAY $45 FOR A PAIR OF SHOES THAT I CAN WEAR COMFORTABLY AND FOR A LONG TIME, BUT DON’T ATTACH THE IDEA OF BEING A “SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS” COMPANY TO THAT PRICE TAG IF YOUR CEO IS REALLY RAKING IN MILLIONS.

    Secondly, if TOMS really wants to stand by its original values in seeing children get education and protection, the shoe giving needs to stop, and support of local programs that empower and help capacity building of local shoemakers/shops needs to increase.

    TOMS is the modern day Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) – what they do is the exact reason the Holy Spirit struck Ananias and Sapphira dead as soon as they spoke their lies.

    Sorry for my rant, but I hate TOMS, and will bash publicly them at any opportunity I get.

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