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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Changing the world starts one sole at a time. No - that's not a typo. It's a revolutionary philosophy that former "The Amazing Race" reality star Blake Mycoskie lives by. When he started Toms Shoes three years ago, he promised that with every shoe purchased another would be donated to a developing nation.

Thanks to Mycoskie and other fashion-forward individuals, more than 200,000 canvas slides have been donated to children and adults in Argentina, South Africa and other developing nations.

Gainesville's boutique, The Exchange, has also joined the cause. This month they are the winner of the Toms Shoes Retail Store of the Month for the custom designs of local artist Roberto Evans.

Evans will be showcasing his designs and creating some new ones at the free viewing of "For Tomorrow: the Toms Shoes Story" hosted by Society Promotions at The Exchange on Friday at 8 p.m.

"I like working with Toms shoes. Besides the fact that each shoe goes towards helping someone, the whole shoe is a canvas, so you can wrap around the artwork," Evans said.

The 35-minute independent film documents the severe poverty of a village in Argentina, where children struggle to walk more than five miles to get water, go to school and receive medical care.

"We want to spread social consciousness in the hopes that it becomes contagious," said Jacob Larson, the director of Society Promotions. "That's what we're about - bringing light to issues like this."

The trials of the village members inspired Mycoskie to create the Toms shoe based on the traditional Argentine work-slide called the 'alpargata.' And with only $44, shoe lovers can remain on the best-dressed list and help change the world in the process.

"It's nice to see a new trend of humanitarianism and social justice flowing into the fashion industry," said Jason Sanders, co-director of Society Promotions. "The world needs this."

The documentary is heartwarming - a must-see for the world changers buzzing in our community. The film reiterates the need for social competence and the importance of remembering those not as fortunate as us. For many villagers in the film, Mycoskie's donation was the first pair of shoes that they had ever received.

Evans will be also be creating custom designs during the viewing starting at $30. The shoes take an hour to dry, so he said he would start any designs, but he has no intent to rush his work.

Evans owns a couple pairs of Toms, but ironically none of his are designed. He rocks them plain.

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"It's easier for me to design other peoples' shoes and let the creativity flow that way, instead of spending that time on myself thinking about what I want," he said.

His designs will also be featured at Gainesville Fashion Week.

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