Fashion Police: Science Shoes

Today’s post is by Emily Bones, a production editor and Newscripts contributor here at C&EN. Eating vegan food is a well-known practice, but wearing vegan shoes is new to the Newscripts gang. Now that the shoe company TOMS has added a periodic table design to its Vegan Classics line, perhaps chemists should consider sporting a partially vegan wardrobe.
Chemistry fashionistas can try one of these on for size.

Chemistry fashionistas can try these on for size. Credit:

With a canvas top and a sole made of rubber or rope, these simple but recognizable shoes debuted in 2006 after Blake Mycoskie, founder and “chief shoe giver” of the company, took a trip to Argentina. Many children in Argentina are impoverished and shoeless, which is a detriment to their development, he observed. To help them, Mycoskie devised a One-for-One plan when the company was born: Every time a pair of TOMS shoes are purchased, the company sends an additional pair to children in need through giving partners. Originally, underprivileged Argentinian children were the “sole” recipients, but with the success of the company and the program, children in more than 50 countries can now benefit. The distinct style of all TOMS shoes is inspired by Argentinian culture, where they are known as alpargatas. The company has taken some creative license for shoes available for purchase, however. The shoes that they donate are usually black slip-on style; if they had laces, families wouldn’t be able to afford to replace them if they break. The periodic table shoes and all of its Vegan Classics companions go a step further in their global awareness – they are made with pesticide-free cotton and suede-free insoles. And they're nerdy cool. More than 2 million shoes have been donated because of the One-for-One program, and with the trendy periodic table shoe, chemists can do their part to help the movement. A TOMS representative says it is up to the production team to choose the designs, so she isn’t certain why the periodic table was the lucky print for TOMS to feature. “They are an online exclusive dedicated to our science-loving supporters, and to promote planetary friendliness. They are light and colorful, just like the periodic table,” she says. If you want to be stylish and splash some chemistry in your wardrobe, these are the shoes for you. And they’re closed-toe, so appropriate for the lab!  

Author: Sophia Cai

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  1. I’d probably want to spray ’em with some kind of sealant to make them a little less porous before wearing them in lab. But I’ll be sure to watch for these at the ACS meeting!

  2. Good point about the sealant. Many years ago a colleague was extracting semivolatile compounds from wastewater with dichloromethane. Waste solvent was placed in a 4-L glass bottle. He had removed that bottle from the hood; as he was putting it back, the base of the bottle struck the bench and the bottom dropped out, drenching his sneaker-shod feet. He suffered no permanent damage. Having this happen with concentrated acids or bases would also be a problem.

  3. so how do i buy these?

  4. Sadly, Toms discontinued making these, Anon.