Shoesday Tuesdays: Brands Pitch in to Help Japan
Footwear Plus MagazineShoesday Tuesdays - Sponsored by WSA  
Demolished towns, packed hospitals and makeshift cardboard shelters: The images from Japan are haunting. With the country still devastated from the effects of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami, the footwear industry is helping provide hope and pitching in to get the country back on its feet.

Many brands and retailers have teamed up with nonprofits and other organizations to send much-needed shoes and funds to Japan. For example, Crocs paired with Save The Children to distribute 100,000 pairs, while Nike plans to work directly with Japan's Defense Department to provide $250,000 worth of footwear and apparel. Soles4Souls is planning to ship 500,000 pairs of donated shoes, including a lot of work boots to help workers rebuild. Along those lines, rain boot maker Däv donated 2,800 pairs to Soles4Souls, each inserted with a piece of art created by school children in Ventura County, California. The company created a video for YouTube, where the touching hand-drawn art, inspired by the theme, "Hope, Courage, Love," can be viewed below.
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Other brands, like Aquatalia, are making donations through the sales of their products. "As so many of our friends, family and millions in Japan and around the world have been affected by this devastating tragedy, we believe there is no better time for all of us to step up and make a difference," says Rena Krasnow, COO and fashion director for Aquatalia, which has partnered with Footnotesonline.com to donate $10 for every pair of its bootssold on the site. "It is a way for us to help others, and engage online shoppers with a charitable cause we feel strongly about." In addition, El Naturalista, the Spanish-based manufacturer of eco-friendly footwear, will donate 60 percent of the sales of its Japanese-inspired collections sold through its online shop to emergency relief efforts. "Inspired by the Japanese proverb 'A trip of thousands of years begins with a single step', El Naturalista encourages all to visit our online shop to take a single step in your journey to create a more human and caring world," says General Manager Pablo de la Peña.

Lastly, Japanese brand Asics is launching a long-term support program, A Bright Tomorrow Through Sport, for children orphaned by the disaster. The program will provide sporting goods, sportswear and shoes to kids in need, with the goal of promoting the sound development of minds and bodies through sports. In addition, the company will sponsor visits by professional athletes and trips to the Asics Sports Museum and Asics Institute of Sports Science. —Audrey Goodson



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