At every level across the Rakuten organisation we are learning about what it means to be a sustainable business, and to see how we can support our clients and partners in their own efforts too. We are setting goals, engaging our staff and leadership and getting expert advice on how we can address the social and environmental issues associated with our operations that urgently need attention. While so much has already been done, (e.g. we recently joined the RE100) there is a long road ahead and we are delighted to partner with like-minded brands to accelerate progress and contribute to a brand and industry we can all be proud of.

The first brand we want to tell you about is TOMS, short for ‘Tomorrow’s Shoes’. In 2006, the footwear brand pioneered the One for One® model: giving one pair of shoes to a child in need for every shoe that was purchased from their collection. Since their founding, they have given nearly 100 million pairs of shoes.

But, to TOMS, creating a better tomorrow means giving much more than shoes. In 2019, TOMS evolved its Giving model to tackle issues within the direct environment of its community.

Working closely with non-profits and changemakers, the brand has since supported different local activations and projects through so-called impact grants – all under the umbrella name ‘Stand for Tomorrow’.

For one of the first projects, shinning light on the lives of people living on the street of Europe’s cities.

TOMS partnered with changemaker Joshua Coombes, a London-based hairdresser and founder of art collective Light & Noise. Joshua started the #DoSomethingForNothing movement, offering free haircuts to homeless people, and then sharing their stories through art. Together with TOMS, he showcased the work in cities such as Manchester, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin.

TOMS also collaborated with changemaker Ella Grace, a community-builder who creates safe spaces for women, and the Helen Bamber Foundation. As part of the collaboration, TOMS gave an impact grant to the Helen Bamber Foundation to support 33 female survivors of human trafficking and held a series of women’s circles in London and Manchester (UK), for the participants to connect, heal and thrive.

In the Netherlands, TOMS took a stand for gender equality: Together with journalist and activist Milou Deelen, the brand organised an immersive art exhibition around the topic of street intimidation. In addition, TOMS gave an impact grant to non-profit partner Project Fearless to launch their pilot program. The grant made it possible for 36 young girls in Amsterdam to participate in long-term courses of hand-on learning and female-led mentoring.

TOMS has always been very active in the space for social justice and human rights. They intend to empower and inspire, and we cannot wait to see what else they will come up with.

Stay tuned for more stories from our brands and how we’re supporting sustainability as a network.