Meet The Activists Putting Their Best Foot Forward In TOMS
The Mallow Puff Is Made For World Changers.
TOMS isn’t using models anymore - or at least, not as you know them.
Instead, they’ve enlisted trailblazing activists and inspirational young people to act as ambassadors for their newest release, the Mallow Puff.
And it’s difficult to think of a better group of people to represent the brand. There’s no performative activism or a panicked attempt to appeal to a new, socially conscious generation here - from the moment the iconic alpargatas hit the market, TOMS has been dedicated to making a change.
From the one-for-one model that made them famous, to the charities and community projects they help with now, TOMS is one company you can really feel good about buying from.
You’re clearly both very creative people, and that shows through in the shoot. Could you talk us through the process of styling the new Mallow, and why you made the choices you did?
Rae: My stylistic choices are a combination of everything that I have been inspired by. When I was younger, some of the things I had were cute accessories and pastel colors. My friends and I used to go take sticker pictures and carry around cute Korean day planners. I took inspiration from OG K-pop groups like S.E.S. and Fin.K.L, and I was really into Sanrio characters like Hello Kitty and Pochacco.
This love is still going strong and it’s reflected in a lot of my wardrobe choices. I own a lot of pastel items already so it was pretty straight forward for me to style the pastel-colored Mallows in a way that felt really familiar to me.
I go through different love affairs with colors in general as well. Right now, I find myself gravitating towards the color red, so it was an obvious choice to combine the red Mallows with a red Tommy Jeans jumpsuit.
Canel: Everything about the shoes screams comfortable and fashionable, so I knew I could wear a cute dress, or come in jeans with a fancy blouse or just in the look I came with - the shoes just fit every mood!
What are your top styling tips to make the Mallows as versatile as possible?
Canel: My advice would be to have at least one item in your fit that matches the color you pick for the Mallows! The rest of the look can be completely different- it will still look great!
Rae: I’d advise people to choose clothing in colors that either compliment the colorways of the Mallows or match the Mallows completely, and to choose clothing with textures that compliment the fabric of the Mallows.
TOMS is a well-established brand that's moving into the future "at the feet of the people who are changing the world". What kind of people do you think we'll see stepping out in the new designs soon?
Rae: I was really happy to see Gabrielle, Greisy, and Mimi as the official ambassadors for The Mallow. My guess is we’ll see more politically active individuals like them stepping out with TOMS on.
Canel: The shoes are the perfect combination not too expensive, very fashionable and not mainstream, so they’re perfect for the cool insider with a small pocket.
You're clearly passionate about activism. Could you talk us through some of the projects and causes you’re involved in?
Canel: I’m very big and proud to be vocal on topics like Feminism, Body-acceptance. I’m passionate about women being comfortable with having body hair - or not. I’m a radical advocate for equal rights and believe strongly that women should be allowed to wear whatever they want to wear or look like without being sexualized or demonized.
Rae: I am involved in a lot of community work! As a queer Jewish and trans-racially adopted South Korean, pushing for more support for communities that have been overlooked and working towards change in spaces that have not traditionally been welcoming or open to marginalized communities is extremely important to me.
I founded Germany’s first English-speaking intersectional feminist platform, YEOJA Mag (@yeoja_mag) a few years back. Its existence would not be possible without our incredible core team and contributors. We are all volunteers who do this next to our day jobs so it means the world to me that people still find time to invest into this project with me. I also manage the community events for YEOJA Mag. Our next event is coming up on the 14th of August and will be the fourth installment of our series PASS IT ON which is all about giving resources to our community for free. This workshop will be co-hosted with uns*, an lgbtqia+ talent agency, and will be all about navigating the industry, especially for those of us from marginalized communities.
My day job is as a photographer, creative director, and producer - so in addition to YEOJA Mag, I channel my passion for representation in my creative work when casting talent. I am always happy to lend my time and energies to bringing attention to important causes and people who deserve more visibility when I have capacity. If anyone would like to get in touch, please do not hesitate to reach out and send me a DM!
And, going back to that - how did your activism influence your decision to collaborate with TOMS?
Canel: I wanted to work with TOMS because they’re a brand that’s being very transparent about how they are trying to be, and will be more sustainable. I’m also doing that as an individual - so that’s what motivated me to get involved.
Rae: When taking on collaborations, I try to be mindful of what the brand I am working with stands for and what kind of greater impact they have or are looking to have outside of their consumer product. I am also looking to see what the track record of these brands looks like and what their capacity for growth, learning, education, and accountability is.
Whilst TOMS is selling a product, they are also very active in giving back to the community.
They’ve really worked hard to develop a process of giving back that is impactful. By directly partnering and sponsoring organizations and collectives that are on the ground doing community work, they are allowing the right people to take up space and get stuff done by helping them with the financial resources so many of these spaces lack. I was particularly happy to see TOMS supporting @bravetrails, a leadership-focused summer camp for LGBTQ+ youth.
Photography: Fizzy Mag | Brit The Kid
In case you missed it: TOMS Celebrates Fifteen Years Of Making Shoes - And Making A Difference