Did Skechers BOBS Steal from TOMS?

We have been discussing the many facets of creative inspiration versus creative theft and outright theft. My wife and I recently found ourselves face to face with what seemed to us like blatant thievery and I had to bring it to your attention so that you don’t buy the stolen ideas over the original one.

We were walking down Broadway toward Whole Foods to get some nourishing food for our little man when I happened to notice a display of shoes in a shoe store window. I am a fan of vegan accessories including shoes although I try to live as frugally as I can to put aside money for Chaim’s university funding. I was excited because I recognized the shoes from a distance — they were TOMS shoes, a brilliant vegan brand that not only makes simple yet attractive shoes but donates a pair of shoes to a child in need of a pair of shoes. (This is usually in a third world country.)

I pointed out the shoes to Elizabeth and she immediately corrected me. “Those aren’t TOMS shoes,” she said, “The sign says that they are BOBS.” Indeed they were — BOBS shoes by Skechers. We went up to the display window and I stared, dumbfounded. The shoes looked almost exactly like TOMS shoes. Moreover, the font used for the name of the brand was quite similar in the store sign. On top of that, I could not help but remember how there is no such thing as coincidence and the fact that TOMS and BOBS have exactly the same number of letters and have that same vowel sound to them — aww.

On the BOBS sign they boasted about helping people with every purchase and the final nail in the content theft was hammered into their coffin. There is absolutely nothing that BOBS by Skechers does as a shoe line that TOMS didn’t do first. In my online research I have found that BOBS as a shoe line has been around for a couple of years which means that they have been blatantly ripping off Tom’s this entire time and absolutely nothing has been done about it.

If someone opened a pizza place called Papa Juan’s and offered the exact same toppings as Papa John’s, you can bet that it would be a matter of weeks before cease and desist orders would be filed and the Juan restaurant would be buried in the garbage heap of forgettable history. Why do we let the BOBS of the world steal ideas wholesale from TOMS and make a lot of money from the stolen knowledge?

49 comments

  • Strange, Gordon! I’ve seen the BOBS commercials on television and I thought it was such a wonderful idea. I had no idea the whole concept was taken from TOMS!

    • That’s how they get you — as I have mentioned, the one who says it louder seems like the originator. Tom’s doesn’t do tv ads and Skechers knows more people will see their ads than the small market Tom’s advertising so they realize they will look like the original!

  • I saw a BOBS display a while back and couldn’t believe it myself. I asked a few friends who said the tv commercial said they were partnering with TOMS. I then Googled that fact to find it completely false and TOMS is NOT affiliated with Sketchers at all. I am really shocked that any company would have the audacity to do this and that there aren’t some sort of patents or copyrights being infringed in this case.

  • This isn’t a big deal. Who the deal cares where the original idea came from? It’s still a flawed idea buying a 50 dollar shoe and then giving some African kid a 3 dollar one. I bought some Aldo’s which look like Toms aswell and I don’t regret it. They were at a better price and look much better.

    • Speaking of flawed ideas, In your purchsaing decision, you did nothing to help anyone but yourself and the bottom line of Aldo – you didn’t even give an African child a $3 pair of shoes. Toms gives a pair of Toms to children in need – the same shoe as the one you purchase. The $50 covers the costs of both shoes.

    • The kids are getting identical shoes.

    • You’re everything that’s wrong with our society. You’re the reason why people have to go to the dentist in a Walmart and mom & pops barely exist. You’re the reason why everything you eat is made by a machine. You’re the reason communities no longer exist. You’re the reason there is no soul. You’re all a carbon copy of each other. Disgusting mall society.

  • Lillian Boyington

    Shoes are a “thing” at work w/the gurls…. (sometimes the lack thereof, mostly flip-flops, but I digress). TOMS is a big thing…. I’d heard of both (via the gurls, of course) but didn’t realize exactly what was going on.
    To expound on Gordon’s ‘he who speaks loudest gets heard’ concept….
    In the paint business PPG is a well recognized name. They make paint for houses, for cars, and glass – Pittburg Paint and Glass is the name.
    Some company called Matrix ran around for years saying that they were ‘made by PPG, just cheaper’. I had to fight that lie the whole 16 yrs I sat behind the paint store counter; over and over telling the unsuspecting consumer (he’s just looking for a bargain…….) that he has been lied to, and there’s lawsuits to prove it.

  • Not even a question…. Yes, they stole from TOMS. Clearly.

  • Not sure what frustrates me more, Sketchers still not being forth right with their supplier lists or now ripping off Toms. To make matters worse, they say they are joining companies like Toms. So that means the slaves making your shoes get to get a pair back. This is disgusting and I refuse to buy anything with the Sketchers logo on it.

    Is there any truth to Sketchers having bought out part or all of Toms to do as they above post states? If this is the case I will champion my cause to include Toms.

    Keep speaking out and fighting till all people are free!

    • I have not seen anything about Sketchers buying Toms yet.

    • First off you need to do your research on BOBs before you make comments about things you have no idea what your talking about. Secondly its spelled Skechers! without the T! No one has ripped off anything from Toms. Did Fruit of the Loom rip off anything from Hanes? Lastly SLAVES!! Come on your stretching it to far.

      • I did my research and spelled it fine. Toms came years before Bobs and therefore it is a matter of intellectual property theft.

      • Intellectual property theft at it’s best! My stomach turned the first time I saw the “Bobs” commercial. And SHAME…SHAME…SHAME on Brooke!

      • I know!!! So many people bought BOBS already!!! Way to make them feel bad!!! If you can’t even spell the brand name, why accuse them of something??? And, exactly, Fruit of the Loom is the same as Hanes, but they didn’t sue each other, why should TOMS and BOBS??? If TOMS could go a good amount of years without doing that, I guess they’re partnering. I thought I saw someone on this site that saw it on a commercial that they were, but apparently not. Anyway, they saw it on the commercial and then did research and saw that they weren’t. (Don’t trust random people on the internet!!!) Congratulations, people! You made everyone wearing BOBS feel bad!!!

  • I really think that BOBS came out before TOMS because their shoes Last Longer and the material is better

  • Lilian! Tom`s are actually not so popular now. How do you define popular? What sort of shoes do you prefer?

  • touché (smile)

  • The truth is that Toms are based off the Argentine alpargata design… Toms is not the originator.

  • All this bickering, Bobs stole my toy from me, PLEASE!! What is important is that both brands are for helping someone else in need. I don’t really care who’s idea it was first.

  • Agree 100%, blatant rip-off. Concept, design, look are stolen from Toms, not sure about comfort. Surely Skechers could have done something to benefit others in a more original manner.

    • Quite right. There are many ways to help others that are innovative that have not yet been done. Heck, they could have stuck with their own original designs and given those away!

  • I think the reason Toms hasn’t done anything is because they don’t really care about the business side as much as they care about people in need getting what they need. I’ve heard a quote before that they hope it inspires other companies to do the same. Yes, I do think it’s ridiculous how similar they are and will not buy from them, only Toms. However, at least they are (I hope) giving shoes to those in need, unlike other companies with similar flats that make no such claim and are out to do purely for money and those that buy them think they can look like those who care and buy Toms.

  • To clarify…sketchers has been donating proceeds to souls4souls before toms ever existed. Sketchers doesn’t do quite the same as toms. They give their proceeds to souls4souls, and they are amazing in the work they do for the needy. No need to get huffy puffy over this when more needy chuldren are being helped.

    • Chica,

      I think it’s FANTASTIC that they donate to souls4souls. Any help for the needy is better than no help at all. This article isn’t about that, though. If I make a coffee shop called Starshmucks and give all the money to the poor, have I not still infringed on Starbucks’ name?

  • I don’t see why this is such a big deal. The creator of toms has said that he wants people to follow his business model. There are two parts to this business model the design of the shoes and the idea of donating a pair for every pair bought. The shoe design has been around for many years, therefore the only “theft” is the business model which the tom’s creator want people to copy. How can it be stolen if he is telling people to take it. Yes they made the basically the exact same shoes but like I said tom’s didn’t design the shoe either. I understand that it is gut wrenching to see a major label stealing from the little guys, but at least they to are doing some good in the world. I have seen multiple knock offs that are also exactly the same minus the two tags, most even have the heal patch (only without a brand name) none of those companies are offering to donate shoes to needy children. The argument that sketchers is making money is valid but Tom’s is also making profit from their product.
    That being said I was uneasy when I first saw the BOBS shoes because I too saw it as a complete rip off. The town I live in has one store that sells Toms, there are 4 that sells Bobs, the single store that does sell Toms is a high end store that most people refuse to buy from because of the attitude of the staff. At least with bobs being sold people are buying shoes that help others instead of knock offs that are pocketing ALL of the profit. There are now two types of consumers the one who is buying it to support a good cause and the one who is buying because it is the “in” thing at the moment. Toms may have started out as a grass root movement but now they are another status symbol the target demographic are more than aware of the fact that Toms came first and Bobs have copied every aspect the shoe. Its ridiculous to assume Sketchers wasn’t fully aware of the backlash that would come from the Bobs shoe line. Therefore, I can only infer that the replication is meant as homage not because they thought no one would notice.
    Also, as I stated before Toms didn’t invent the shoe design so to call foul on Bobs the same must be said for Toms. And the creator of the business model has told people to repeat it so why should consumers refuse to buy something that has been given the green light by the (so said) victim? To say that they are trying to under cut the Toms brand is also idiotic because some of the sketcher line Bobs are more expensive than Toms. One last argument if you took two similar brands of jeans and removed all the label to you think you could tell which were which?

    • Following his model would be selling bagels and donating one for everyone sold. This is more than following the model — this is cloning him wholesale. If they’d say up front they were inspired by Toms or that they got their idea from Toms anywhere… it would be a little different. This is purely lP theft.

  • To everyone here who has defended sketchers I’d implore you to listen to Little Boxes by Malvina Reynolds. It’s not going to change your lives, I just want you to know how I feel about you.

  • It’s definitely a complete rip off, but it’s not intellectual property theft because there isn’t any intellectual property to steal. IP is a purely legal concept, for stuff like trademarks, copyrights, patents…and none of that is involved here. You are legally allowed to copy (almost) any style or business model you want. It happens all the time. Some brand was the first to introduce “jeggings.” Should no one else have been allowed to make them?

    Your Papa Juan’s example could be different, in that if you brand yourself in such a way that it appears that you are connected to or trying to imply that you are connected to another particular brand, you may be infringing on their trademarks. It’s about creating consumer confusion. Of course, that would actually take more than just opening a pizza place called Papa Juan’s and using the same pizza toppings that pretty much every pizza place uses. That won’t rise to the level of IP theft.

    Honestly, if you don’t want to buy the knockoff, don’t. It probably just doesn’t feel right because the philanthropic aspect of the BOBS line is almost certainly motivated by profit, while the TOMS line is really motivated by a desire to do good things. Personally, I’d rather just donate money to a charity and keep wearing my old sneakers.

    • Kim,

      Thank you for your well written comment. It seems that I have had a misunderstanding of the meaning of intellectual property. Really, though — I wish that nobody had introduced jeggings! A blight on humanity.

      Your idea of donating money and continuing to wear your sneakers is a good one — so long as that charity uses most of its money for its intended purposes and not administrative costs, right? :) Thanks again!

      • Agreed! I hate to hate, but if jeggings did not exist…well, I wouldn’t miss them. :) And yeah, the lower the administrative costs, the better!

  • Kim,

    I have to wonder who are the people putting on jeggings and thinking, “Yes! This is the look!”

  • Yvonne,

    That’s what I was thinking but our friend Kim here says that is not the case! It is still quite wrong!

  • Hallia,

    I spelled it just fine. The Hanes example is not applicable or similar at all.

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