Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]
Let’s see how many buzzwords we can fit into this sentence: FlyingFlips is a fashion-forward, humanity-conscious, crowdsourced shoe company with the vision of connecting the up and coming to the shod, all the while shipping footwear to those who lack it.
Or, in other words, FlyingFlips is a company that vends flip-flops designed by artists, voted on by its community, and sold to whomever wants them. Buy one pair, and the company donates one to a person in need. The company is therefore at the crossroads of a number of online trends, while being, at its heart, a charitable organization.
FlyingFlips knows this, as is evinced by the statement that it supplied to TNW:
The capabilities of Web 2.0 and social networking; enabling us to crowd-source designs and feedback from users on which designs they want to see on a pair of flip flops, have allowed us to rethink and re-imagine how we can design, produce, and sell physical products. We are excited about the possibility of disrupting traditional production development within our industry and are currently exploring leading-edge technologies to continue innovating on our footwear products.
Now, it’s been some time since ‘Web 2.0’ was bandied about as current, but FlyingFlips isn’t exactly trying to be the sharp edge of the cutting. Instead, it’s model is an application of technology, and not its creation. However tired we have become of the term ‘crowdsourcing,’ if FlyingFlips can hit scale, it could have a positive impact on society as a whole. Good on that, we say.
How does the company manage to donate a pair of shoes for every one that it sells? Well, its wares are not exactly cheap – a pair will set you back around $31, including shipping. That’s not expensive for footwear in general, but for flip-flops it is on the higher end. Still, the crowdsourced patterns are generally interesting, which coupled to the charity element makes the price tag more than palatable.
The final component is that artists whose designs are picked are compensated when shoes bearing their mark are sold. Thus a single purchase supports the arts, the poor, and, presumably, your personal arches all at once.
How much do the artists make? The following chart is via the company’s press page:
TNW’s view is that FlyingFlips is a smart take on sandals, and a savvy implementation of technology and trends that power the modern Internet. While the company will likely never be a billion dollar affair, it has the potential to help a great number of our impoverished brothers and sisters around the world. For that alone, I hope they succeed.
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