Socks have been a necessity in most outfits and an added fashion staple in others forever. Some serve specific purposes (I’m looking at you, knee-high softball socks,) but most are just run-of-the-mill for everyday wear. Bombas understands this need as it sells, according to them, socks guaranteed with 100% happiness, but it also donates a pair for every one sold. That’s the brand’s schtick: one purchased equals one donated. 100% happiness is a hefty statement to live up to, but it says it’s done this by fixing all of the “small things,” like toe seams, pilling, and sock slippage, to help make its products last for years for both customers and the shelters that receive them.
Bombas might have started out with socks in 2013, but the company greatly expanded its product line since then. Launching shirts in 2019 snowballed into neutral and skin-toned underwear in January of this year. Its skin tone line includes five different shades, while its neutrals are more the average underwear color (blue, red, gray, etc.). It also built up variety in its products. It doesn’t just sell socks, it sells ankle, calf, quarter, compression, knee-high, and no-show socks. And all of these come in different prints and patterns. Gender neutrality has not reached the Bombas site just yet, as the products are broken up into men and women categories.
All of the products listed above are donated to homeless shelters and organizations helping those in need each time a purchase is made. At the time of writing this article, Bombas’ donation tracker on its website says it donated 47,549,788 items to over 2,500 community organizations.
Bombas claims that its products are “designed for donation,” as the company meets the requirements listed by homeless shelters for donation items. It works with “giving partners” to make these donations and has over 3,000 partners in the United States. It even has a waitlist for other organizations to join when space either frees up or it decides to expand its partner network. For people looking to donate directly to a shelter or work with one in its community, it has a directory on its website. While it’s making a difference through donations, Bombas also hopes to bring awareness to the issue of homelessness through the work that it does.
This is all fine and dandy, but donating an item for every item purchased isn’t a revolutionary idea. Bombas doesn’t just donate its products, the brand is also active in making a real difference in people’s lives. On its website, people can find a homelessness FAQ page that counters the bias (internalized or not) that people may have about homelessness. From answering why someone may choose to be on the street to how to help homeless people while also making sure it maintains its sense of self and dignity while it’s experiencing a difficult situation, it helps its consumers truly understand its cause. It even tackles the bigger picture and says that even though money is a good way to help, it cannot solve the whole problem. Bombas calls for support and services to be in place to supplement the change that money can bring.
If this alone doesn’t mist the eyes, wait until you hear about the work that Bombas did to help during the pandemic. It’s kept a monthly track record starting in March 2020 of what it has done to help. For an abstract, it says that it has “welcomed 1,159 new Giving Partners, spent 340 hours volunteering virtually and in person, donated 15,265,116 pairs of socks, and ordered 180 pizzas to a local family shelter.” It also donated PPE and disinfectants to its partners in March, donated 100,000 pairs of socks in April, and donated $250,000 to organizations fighting for justice for the Black community and partnered with The Ally Coalition to donate socks to the LGBTQ+ community in June. And it hasn’t stopped there. Bombas is truly about giving back to the community, and it shows through its work and extracurriculars.
Speaking of assisting the Black community, Bombas can be added to the long list of companies that took a stance with the Black Lives Matter movement during the demonstrations last summer. It states on its website how systemic oppression and inequality disproportionately affects the Black community, leading to a greater chance of homelessness. For numbers to back up this claim, according to its website, the U.S. census, and the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 40% of the U.S. homeless population is Black, but Black people only make up 13% of the general population in the United States.
While systemic issues require big governmental change, donations never hurt the cause. Knowing this, Bombas donated $25,000 to four organizations picked by its Black employees. This was on top of the $50,000 donated to each organization in June. Those picked were A Second U Foundation, Sister’s Circle, National Bail Fund Network, and The Marsha P Johnson Foundation. It also launched The Black Hive Collection this February, where every pair of socks bought from that collection, a pair was donated to someone in need in the Black community.
Bombas has done a lot, there’s no questioning that. It’s a lot more than the simple buy-one-donate-one model and the company’s history of community activism that proves it. Bombas works for real change, and it can inspire us all to Bee Better.