Gap product donates to those less fortunate

Sarah Komisky

Shopping is being reinvented by providing great fashion that gives customers the opportunity to be involved in a good cause. Between fighting AIDS in Africa and helping those less fortunate around the globe, Gap (Product) RED and TOMS Shoes for Tomorrow have made a commitment to serving others.

Gap, along with Converse, Giorgio Armani, and others are donating proceeds of store purchases to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria for women and children.

Founded by U2’s Bono and Bobby Shriver of Debt AIDS Trade in Africa, (Product) RED was born in 2006 with its spring RED collection, its first staple of success being a T-shirt made from 100 percent African cotton.

“RED products have been going pretty fast,” said Alicia Qutierrez, employee at GapBody in Mission Viejo. “We have been attracting people to buy it with everything that is happening in Africa.”

The RED line offers accessories and clothing for men, women, children and infants with items such as bracelets, sweaters and hats.

“We are trying something new with PJ’s and panties, something different,” Qutierrez said. “We also offer jeans and handbags in the (Product) RED line.”

Another fashion company that is giving back to others is TOMS Shoes, created in 2006.

According to their Web site, TOMS mission is to make life more comfortable through its ultra-lightweight design and the company’s commitment to match every pair purchased with a donated pair to a child in need.

TOMS founder, Blake Mycoskie, prior to creating the successful company invented his own 24/7 reality TV network and participated on Season 2 of The Amazing Race.

After taking a trip to Argentina, Mycoskie was impressed by the poverty of the country and formulated a plan for “Shoes For Tomorrow,” aka TOMS Shoes.

Emily Horrigan, 23, fashion merchandising, is an intern at TOMS and explained the origin of the company.

“He [Mycoskie] noticed many children who couldn’t afford shoes, and that’s when [he got] the idea to create a shoe company,” Horrigan said. “The inspiration for the design of the shoe came from the Argentinea shoe Alpargatas, a lightweight slip-on with a leather insole.”

Horrigan landed her spot on the TOMS team after searching for a job in the fashion merchandising industry.

“I wanted to be a part of a company that was doing something I could truly feel good about. It’s the kind of company I’ve always dreamed of working for,” Horrigan said. “They are all very warm people and passionate about their jobs.”

Among its many customers, TOMS has developed a following of young adults that love the trendy shoe and support the cause. The shoe has also gained attention of celebrities such as Sienna Miller and the pop group Hanson.

“I love simplicity of the design,” Horrigan said. “They are a perfect shoe for everyday wear. They don’t look like any other slip-ons.”

According to a press release from TOMS, Mycoskie and his team returned to Argentina in 2006 for its first “Shoe Drop” to donate shoes to children. Mycoskie’s second Shoe Drop will take place this month in Africa while plans for a shoe drop in the U.S. for summer are now in progress.

TOMS can be purchased online, at Bloomindales, Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters.

To get involved visit www.tomsshoes.com. For those interested to be involved on campus, visit Emily Horrigan’s booth representing TOMS at Saddleback’s Awareness Day Nov. 29.

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