These celebrity-loved shoes used to cost hundreds more when they were sold in luxury stores — but a new strategy has made them much more affordable

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While many retail startups today start their journeys by selling direct-to-consumer, then expanding to traditional opportunities like brick-and-mortar stores or deals with big-box retailers, luxury shoe brand Sarah Flint is one of the few that have run in the opposite direction.

The stylish and comfortable flats, heels, sandals, sneakers, and boots from Sarah Flint, founded in 2013, could previously be found at high-end department stores like Barneys New York and Bloomingdale's. Now, you can only buy them online on its website, and the shift has meant a significant drop in prices, from a range of $495 to $1,200 to a range of $195 to $725.

I can't imagine anyone who would complain about this difference, especially because nothing else about the shoes has changed. They're the same beautiful pairs, thoughtfully designed and handcrafted in Italy, at a fraction of the price.

Sarah Flint's best sellers include the pointy Natalie flat ($345, shown above), classic Perfect Pump ($355), and block heeled Emma pump ($345), all well-made and stylish in their own right, but no doubt granted the final stamp of approval after being spotted again and again on Meghan Markle.

Founder Sarah Flint received her education in footwear design at Parsons, FIT, and Arsutoria in Milan, a background that shows in her work. My favorite style from the brand, the Emma, features a two-inch heel that's slightly inset to make it feel less heavy than traditional block heels. Walking in them is comfortable thanks to the three millimeters of extra padding added to the footbed, and the flexible leather lining and insoles help your feet breathe.

The triple-dyed Italian black suede is soft and looks quietly refined, but paired with the fun, glossy patterned heel, it becomes more than just another suede work pump. There are 10 more colors and patterns to choose from if you want your footwear to pop — Lipstick Red Suede and Chocolate Leopard Hair Calf are irresistible styles I wouldn't mind adding to my rotation.

All these features made the Emma pump the obvious choice when I wanted to be slightly dressier for a day at the office or a work event without resorting to taking a Lyft home because my feet hurt too much to walk.

You can expect nothing less than quality, comfort, and style when you buy a pair of Sarah Flint shoes, and now that many of them cost around $200 to $400, the decision to invest in luxury for less is even easier.

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