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Bhava Shoes: An Understated Approach to Luxury

Antagonist staff photographers Brix & Maas met Francisca Pineda of Bhava Shoes on Bali (back when traveling was a thing). With our creatives on assignment for the brand’s lookbook, we saw the opportunity to discuss shoe design with founder and head designer Francisca.

Bhava vegan footwear design - Photos by Brix and Maas for Antagonist - Bali

March 30, 2021

Words — Eric Mirbach
Photography — Brix & Maas

“We believe in an understated approach to luxury,” Francisca told us when we discussed her approach to designing shoes. 

“Our footwear is timeless in design but we’re always innovating, developing new construction techniques in order to engineer modern, comfortable shoes — beautiful and artfully crafted.”

”I awoke to the horrors of the leather industry and started learning about ethical fashion.“

Francisa, born in Costa Rica, grew up in NYC since she was five years old and studied Fashion Design at renowned Parsons School of Design and then worked in fashion for ten years.

Bhava vegan footwear design - Photos by Brix and Maas for Antagonist - Bali
Francisca at work in her studio.
Bhava vegan footwear design - Photos by Brix and Maas for Antagonist - Bali

“I was an accessory designer until I awoke to the horrors of the leather industry and started learning as much as possible about ethical and sustainable fashion. Eventually, this lead to me starting Bhava.”

What sets the brand apart, we asked her. “Our designs are unique, they’re not just vegan versions of common footwear. Everything is edited down to a style that will be as timeless as possible, but with a unique twist always.”

But Bhava is most recognized for how comfy and durable the shoes are, Francisca told us. “I personally test every model for days, and if something bothers me about the fit, the comfort or the function, it does not make it to production.”

Bhava vegan footwear design - Photos by Brix and Maas for Antagonist - Bali
Bhava vegan footwear design - Photos by Brix and Maas for Antagonist - Bali
Left: Aglaja Brix for Bhava - Bali

Her major challenge: “Vegan footwear still is considered less valuable and poorer in quality than leather. We’re doing our part to help further education on this matter,” Francisca told us. “The fashion industry in general needs to support suppliers that work with sustainable initiatives, high quality vegan materials, renewable energy and minimal impact on the environment.”

”Bhava is vegan, independent and female-owned.“

Before we let Francisca get back to her shoot with Brix & Maas, we asked her what the three most important things are she wants people to know about her brand. Francisca didn’t think twice:

“First off, Bhava has always been and will always be a vegan brand. Secondly, Bhava is an independent female-owned brand, tested and designed for the real footwear needs of today’s woman. Many styles are designed for multi-use purposes, with convertible options like straps, uppers etc. And last but not least: Bhava shoes are thoughtfully designed, tested and redesigned obsessively for comfort, function and beauty.“

We, for one, can attest for that.

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