Interview with Jamaican Shoe Designer Everton McNaughton - El Marton

Everton McNaughton is a Jamaican shoe designer who started creating handbags from goat skin which lead to El Marton brand.

CEM recently did a Q & A with the Everton the talented designer to learn more about his influences and approaches to shoe design.

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TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND WHY YOU DECIDED TO BECOME A SHOE DESIGNER?

My name is Everton McNaughton aka El Marton, I’m a native of Port Antonio, Jamaica. In my younger days my passion was really to music and to become a DJ. After finishing school I began fishing as a means to earn a living, but after a near drowning incident I decided to dedicate myself to pursuing my love of music. I had always been creative making crafts, jewellery made from coconut shells, bamboo, beads, etc. which friends and family would buy.

Becoming a shoe designer really was just a natural progression of circumstances, wanting my style as a DJ to be unique and needing a new phone case, I decided to make one out of goat skin, which evolved into making goat skin bags, at which point people really started to recognize my crafts and request them so the El Marton brand was born. I started experimenting making other things out of goat skin, phone cases, belts, armbands, working with leather and then came the sandals. After a while people started requesting sandals more than anything else and so I have been perfecting our handmade sandals ever since.

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The Kerene by El Marton

WHICH DESIGNERS DID YOU LOOK TO WHEN YOU DECIDED THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A DESIGNER AND WHO WOULD YOU SAY HAD THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE?

To be honest I couldn’t really name a particular designer, growing up I didn’t really have the luxury of TV and magazines so I really wasn’t familiar with any designers. As a youth from the streets, and aspiring DJ most of my style influence, I would say, comes from the dancehall scene rather than the mainstream fashion industry. You done know it’s all about the ladies in dancehall, whose looking the hottest, the most unique – everyone wants to stand out and not wear what everyone else is wearing. So yeah I would say dancehall and street fashion in Jamaica would have been my biggest influence.

DO YOU ONLY DESIGN FOR FEMALE, IF SO WHY?

No, our brand is a unisex. In fact, we’ve just launched the El Marton for men collection for summer 2015, and we have plans for our kiddies’ line coming soon.

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The Italy by El Marton

I SEE THAT YOU THAT YOUR DESIGNS ARE MOSTLY SANDALS, ARE YOU HOPING TO VENTURE INTO DIFFERENT STYLE?

Absolutely, we've got a lot of plans for development in the future, our motto is “style cyaa spoil” – you will be seeing a lot more unique styles and colors as well as specialty collections, but you'll have to stay tuned to our website.

WHEN YOU DESIGN A SHOE, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING TO ENHANCE OR TRANSFORM ABOUT THE WEARER?

We want our customers to feel like one in a million, pamper their feet and feel like a goddess. Because our footwear is made by hand and we cut our own soles we are able to offer a custom fit like no other. Our customers can be stylish and comfortable at the same time.

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The Double Strap Candy

WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL THOUGHTS ON COMFORT AND SUPPORT VS STYLE?

Comfort is our main goal. Obviously there is a balance to maintain but you shouldn’t have to be have uncomfortable to be stylish.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO KEEP YOUR IDEAS FRESH?

A lot of my inspiration comes from nature and just the simple things around me, for example we have a style named the Scorpion, the Slingshot, the Claw fashioned after the crab claw. It’s also easy to see an item in different variations once it’s produced, so for example our very popular Candy style is also offered in a variation called Double Strap Candy.

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The Claw

WHERE CAN CUSTOMER FIND YOUR SHOES?

For now you can only get El Marton, from El Marton. We have a store in Port Antonio which is open 10am to 7pm Mon to Sat, but we also have a website (http://elmartondesign.com) probably the only true ecommerce fashion sites in Jamaica, that allows customers to purchase online using a credit card or bank deposit. We offer FREE shipping anywhere in Jamaica and we also offer international shipping. El Marton Design is open online 24/7.

WHAT PROJECTS DO YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR THE FUTURE?

We would love to be able to be to incorporate more natural or recycled materials in our products. For example, in Jamaica we have a huge problem with plastic bottles especially on the sea shores. We are looking into how we might be able to use recycled plastic bottles for shoe heels. Apart from that we plan to continue to build the brand, develop and grow.

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The Candy

ANY TIPS FOR ASPIRING SHOE DESIGNERS?

Stay focused, keep your head high, and believe in yourself regardless of what you aspire to do in life. Most of all don’t give up – there will be negativity and obstacles, just remember the stone that the builder refuse can become the head cornerstone.

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The ankle Curve