It's hard to avoid August's back-to-school blues. Even if your academic calendar is a thing of the past, summer days are numbered, and with a change in season comes a need for functional footwear that will carry you through a few seasons more. Etnies new Caprice Eco Sneakers make the transition from summer to school easy.
Made with recycled rubber outsoles, a hemp upper and lace closure, and a recycled nylon liner, these vegan kicks are part of etnies one-for-one program, called "Buy a Shoe, Plant a Tree," wherein etnies aims to plant 100,000 trees in Brazil's Sao Paulo Rainforest. But, wait, doesn't this sound and look a lot like TOMS Shoes?
The Caprice Eco Sneakers are notable because they are wearable, sustainable, and affordable ($50, online at etnies.com). They are a great footwear staple, which is the selling point. But, and there is a but, one look at these kicks and it's hard not to notice the similarity to the classic TOMS Shoes design. etnies' shoes feature the signature wrapping most associated with TOMS.
A closer look at Etnies' collection of green footwear will bring you to their Circe Eco shoe, which looks even more like a pair of TOMS.
Let's back up. I asked etnies' Senior Product Manager for Women's and Youth Footwear, Karen Lake, to share the inspiration behind the design. Lake does so, below.
The design behind the etnies Caprice Eco was to create a slim vulcanized shoe in a simple and casual style that would transition easily between the street and beach. It has lots of open space on the upper part of the shoe to mix up the style with different textiles and highlight them with contrasting piping for an added color pop.
No mention of TOMS, but they don't need to. etnies borrows TOMS one-for-one model, a philanthropic marketing tool, for a good cause: reforestation. But they take it a step too far (no pun intended) with their design.
If you want to invest in a one-one-one initiative, take your pick: plant a tree with etnies or give a pair of shoes to a child in need with TOMS.
Kudos to Etnies for taking a sustainable approach to their design, but I still choose TOMS. They have expanded their product line to include attractive wedges--take, for example, the TOMS Petal Grosgrain Women's Wedges--suitable for even weddings. Yes, weddings.
TOMS even offers a heeled suede boot, the Chestnut Suede Women's Desert Wedges, which will be great come fall. It's hard to believe TOMS all started with a simple soft shoe inspired the Argentinan Alpargata, but, hey, if the shoe fits… Oh, and TOMS has one-for-one eyewear too. Just sayin'.