Sarah Flint is a New York-based luxury shoe designer who debuted her namesake brand for Fall 2013. After completing her studies in fashion and footwear design at Parsons and FIT, along with internships at Diane Von Furstenberg and Proenza Schouler, Flint headed to Milan to sharpen her production and patternmaking skills at Ars Sutoria. Dubbed as “One to Watch” by Women’s Wear Daily, Flint draws inspiration from classic vintage silhouettes and the design details of Japanese origami to create feminine, made-in-Italy shoes with a luxe finish and a superior fit.
After FIT and Parsons, were you an apprentice? Where did you work?
During my time at Parsons and FIT, I interned at Diane Von Furstenberg and Proenza Schouler. After FIT and Parsons, I attended Ars Sutoria in Milan to further hone my skills in footwear pattern making and prototyping. I really wanted to study in Milan, where traditional footwear design is truly an art form.
What was the most valuable part of those experiences?
It was an amazing experience to study in Italy, as I was able to fully understand the entire construction and production process and visit some of the best tanneries and manufacturing plants in the world. It was here that I also met my production manager and our Sarah Flint patternmaker, Richard Siccardi. He was actually one of my teachers at Ars Sutoria and we really bonded over a shared vision of this return to timeless, feminine silhouettes as well as having construction and fit truly be the starting point of design as opposed to what buckle goes on top. Our relationship is one of the things that makes the brand unique. This is because I am not just sending sketches to a factory to be interpreted, but working side by side with Richard while he is making the patterns to examine every detail. Working at Diane von Furstenberg and Proenza were both great learning opportunities. They both have such strong brand identities that carry through to their accessories.
Will every season be inspired by the 1940s in some way?
It might not always just be the 1940s, but there will always be an element of retro styling.
What did you differently with your SS14 collection than your debut FW13 collection?
I think you learn a lot from your first collection. For SS14 I pushed myself a little more to create new interesting silhouettes in more colorful, luxe materials, but at the same time maintaining the brand identity.
How do you balance the function and fashion of a shoe?
I think this is a very important balance that I aim to achieve with each design. It really comes down to construction details and fit. I definitely do not think you have to sacrifice comfort for style and I strive to design shoes that offer both.
You’re competing at a price point with Jimmy Choo & Manolo Blahnik. As a new designer, what are you doing to get noticed with such dominant peers?
I think it is a combination of quality, attention to detail and craftsmanship, paired with my distinct point of view. I believe that luxury is expressed through subtlety and detail, fine materials and meticulous construction; each shoe I design is enriched by delicate, feminine embellishments and intricate leather work.
Why did you decide to immediately launch e-commerce?
First of all, it of course allows us to reach a broader geographic audience than we could with retailers in a first season. Second and most importantly, I wanted to launch e-commerce right from the beginning to have the opportunity to go straight to the source to gather information about what the customer is responding to. This is the same reason it has been really important for me to do trunk shows, so that I can go directly to the consumer and really understand what she likes and dislikes and has been looking for. I believe that there is a crucial balance every designer must achieve between dictating a new point of view and really listening to the needs of the customer.
How is it going?
It has been going really well! We have been receiving great reaction to the collection from consumers and we’re having great meetings with retailers as well.
What do you prefer heels or flats?
Flats by day and heels by night!
Is there a single pair of shoes every woman should own?
The Crawford Bootie!