Louboutin, Kirkwood, Zanotti—some of the biggest designers in the women’s luxury shoe market are men who have not experienced living in their sky-high, and sometimes challenging, designs. Elona Appleby, the founder and CEO of James Carletons, a new range of Italian-made leather footwear, thinks it’s time for a change.
James Carletons (a combination of Appleby’s sons’ names) is an ironically masculine moniker for what has become a very feminine collection for dress footwear. “It’s every little girl’s fantasy to have beautiful shoes in her closet,” Appleby said.
Launched at the June FFANY show, the line spans stiletto sandals, peep toe pumps, delicate flats, booties and more, with highlights being the Juliette stiletto sandal draped with Swarovski crystals—perfect for a glamorous bride—and printed leathers embedded with crystals, which Appleby says are unlike anything she’s seen in the United States. One of the main design influences for the line is an array of beautiful leathers sourced from the Marche region of Italy, including a standout Cipria leather printed with orchids.
Appleby added she wanted to have a “little bit of everything” in the collection, including comfort, which she found in the high caliber craftsmanship for which the Marche region is known.
James Carletons was a dream ten years in the making. As a business manager in the makeup industry, Appleby said she lived her life in heels and often thought about how she would design shoes to be both fashionable and comfortable. “I found that I couldn’t walk in them for more than five minutes,” she said of the other luxury shoe brands she purchased.
The line’s retail prices begin at $400 for flats to approximately $600 for pumps and booties, and $1,000 for the Juliette bridal sandal. Appleby is targeting high-end department stores and boutiques, and said the combination of fashion and comfort appeals to women age 20 to 50.
So far, Appleby says the collection has received positive feedback from celebrity stylists. That’s no small feat, given their loyalty to more established, high-end labels. However Appleby is focused on getting her shoes in the hands of retailers. She added, “The hardest thing will be just getting my name out there, getting the buyers to touch the shoe, to see that the shoes are what I say they are.”