Shoes for Shoes (TOMS 2019-2020)

TOMS is an American shoe company that, for a while, had a ‘one for one’ business model: for every pair of shoes it sold, it donated one pair to a child in need from one of the following countries: Argentina, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Rwanda, South Africa and the United States. The company was started by Blake Mycoskie and has since expanded its products to include spectacles, clothing and coffee. The company was purchased by its creditors in late 2019, changing the one-for-one philosophy to a one-third approach.

TOMS’ report for 2019-2020 acknowledges the difficulty of commissioning photography during the pandemic –one of the few reports to do so– before going on to credit the illustrator and designer of the report on the second page of the report, another rare occurrence.

The report’s most potent element is its illustration. Made by Niege Borges, the portraits in particular are gorgeous – vibrant and full of human warmth. Borges makes the interesting choice of using naturalistic skin tones and bold, expressionistic colour everywhere else. Her line work is quick and bold and conveys a sense of liveliness in each piece of work.

Designed by Amber Podratz, the report fits snugly into a horizontal screen format and uses a vertical division where necessary, suggestive of a printed edition. The design wisely remains unobtrusive, allowing Borges illustration to dominate.

Typography appears to rely on a single san serif in multiple weights, typeset to allow a good proportion of negative space. Photography and other design elements in the section dividers are set askew, to echo the dynamism of Borges’ illustrations. This report is a fine example of graphic design and illustration working hand in hand to deliver work that is both vibrant and easy to read.

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