Which shoe brands give back to charities?

In recent years, the notion of socially responsible shopping has gained a lot of traction among consumers. From Rothy’s to Moda Operandi to Next Model Management, businesses in various sectors of the fashion and beauty industry have garnered attention for their commitment to philanthropy—for taking official stances on social issues and for pledging to donate to causes relevant to the times and their philosophies. 

“People want to do good when buying a product, so they naturally gravitate to companies promising to do so,” Kevin Scally, chief relationship officer for Charity Navigator, told The Washington Post.

Now more than ever, with the coronavirus pandemic and recent worldwide protests over racial issues having brought social topics to the fore, companies are becoming increasingly collaborative with nonprofits to do good for their customers and society. So, which shoe brands make a habit of giving to charity? Read on for a condensed list.

Vans

From supporting arts education to promoting mental health awareness, Vans has a long history of corporate philanthropy. In 2009, a Colorado art teacher was searching for new ways to engage his students, and he subsequently reached out to a friend for ideas, Forbes reported. That friend, a sales rep for Vans, proposed donating a number of plain white Vans to use as canvases—an idea that birthed Custom Culture, a company-sponsored art competition for high schools around the country. 

More recently, the footwear brand announced a donation of $1 million to 10 charities and philanthropic organizations advocating for mental health through skateboarding, surfing and art.

White sneakers with tattoo sitting along side shoe tools

Toms

If you’ve heard of this shoe retailer, there’s a good chance you already know that every pair of shoes the company sells gives a new pair to a child in need—this promise has been a part of Toms’ identity since the company’s founding in 2006.

Today, the company pledges a third of its profits to grassroots efforts to promote mental health, end gun violence and increase access to opportunity. More information about these efforts can be found in its most recent impact report, which is posted on the website and, among other things, reflects $135,000 donated in support of racial justice since June 2020.

Rothy’s

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rothy’s has made a few moves to provide relief to frontline workers. According to the brand’s website, a $20,000 donation to Direct Relief helped provide masks, gloves and gowns to health care organizations around the United States, and a $45,000 donation from a company-sponsored fundraiser helped make a deeper impact regarding the public health crisis.

In April 2020, Rothy’s, which is touted for its sustainability efforts, also donated 100,000 non-medical masks in partnership with the grassroots platform Mask Match. The donated masks have since been placed with long-term care facilities, medical centers, health clinics and the like.

Before the pandemic, the brand has made impact investments with organizations like Donors Choose and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

White sneakers with tattoo sitting along side shoe tools

KEEN Footwear

Keen Utility, the work boot division of Keen Footwear, recently introduced She Builds, a grant program intended to support the incoming generation of tradeswomen, Footwear News reported in March. The project aims to award $25,000 in cash and footwear to U.S. nonprofits helping women and girls gain access to trade skill training and networking.

Keen Footwear also offers a Youth Grant Program, which funds some grassroots organizations dedicated to immersing kids and teens, particularly those who are underserved, in the outdoors.

FILA

Last year, the sneaker giant announced via Instagram that it would donate $100,000 to Black Lives Matter and encouraged followers to “take the necessary steps…for a more equal and just tomorrow.”

The brand’s more recent charitable contributions have to do with a collaboration with the New York-based and humanitarian-focused apparel company KROST. The duo introduced a new version of the Renno sneaker and devised a campaign that features activists from Food Bank for New York, BK Community Fridges, March For Our Lives, The National Alliance on Mental Illness, LGBTQ+ Advocates, Stomp Out Bullying, Encourage Kids Foundation, Freedom March NYC and The Descendants. They also pledged 10 percent of KROST x Fila Renno sale proceeds to the listed charities.

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Smartwool, Nike and more

Since the start of the pandemic, Smartwool has been donating socks to health care workers throughout the United States. And as they continue to work around the clock to administer care and spend hours upon hours on their feet, the brand is pledging to keep them comfortable.

Employees started by donating 5,000 pairs of the brand’s Merino wool compression socks to hospitals. Now, they’re donating a pair of socks for every pair sold, Smartwool president Jennifer McLaren said in a statement on the company’s website. To help facilitate its relief efforts with maximum impact, the brand has partnered with Good360, a nonprofit focused on helping corporations disseminate donatable goods and who has also worked with fashion industry icons like Nike and Levi’s.

And speaking of Nike, in a similar effort to thank health care workers for their dedication, the megabrand recently worked with Good360 to distribute tens of thousands of pairs of Nike Air Zoom Pulse, which was developed in late 2019 specifically with health care workers in mind. It also organized the delivery of nearly 100,000 pairs of soccer socks with mild compression to workers in designated metropolitan areas. According to their website, Nike leaders, the Nike Foundation and Nike have pledged more than $25 million to COVID-19 responses around the world since the onset of the pandemic. As of June 5, 2020, the corporation pledged a $40 million investment over four years to support organizations focused on addressing racial inequality.

Other sneaker retailers like Puma and atmos (formerly UBIQ) have made donations to health care workers and the Minnesota Freedom Fund in the last year. Puma has also recently pledged donations to fund The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ+ crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization.

Ready to order a pair of shoes with purpose?

It’s important to note that these are just guidelines for acquiring shoes from charitable brands. With over 20 years in the fashion industry, Esquivel Shoes takes pride in being a quality resource for shoppers. To learn more about our charitable efforts or any of the products we offer, send us a message through this link. We’re here to give you peace of mind and help you make the best buying decisions for you.

George Esquivel

George Esquivel

George is a Southern California-based designer and craftsman who designed his first pair of shoes in 1994 and began honing his craft thereafter. For over 20 years, he’s operated his namesake brand, Esquivel, which specializes in handmade shoes and accessories. In the last decade, George served as Creative Director of renowned luxury bag and luggage brand Tumi Inc. and as Creative Consultant for Italian heritage brand Fratelli Rossetti, and has collaborated with many others for his own brand. George was a 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, and has been a CFDA member since 2010. When he’s not working alongside his team of artisans at his atelier, Esquivel House, in Downtown Los Angeles, George is enjoying time with his wife and high school sweetheart, Shelley, and their three grown children. He also loves mountain biking and hosting good friends for dinners and fêtes.