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Ethical Fashion Q&A With Francisca Pineda

Posted on June 10 2014

BHAVA is a women's fashion shoe brand founded by designers Francisca Pineda and Rushali A. Sanghani. The duo first met in 2006 while collaborating on runway accessories for Cynthia Rowley in Hong Kong. Bhava is named after the designers' shared devotion to purity and consideration for others, the highest form of Bhava.  We asked Francisca a few questions about ethical fashion in anticipation of the Bhava/Bhoomki June 2013 trunk show event...

How do you approach ethical fashion?

For BHAVA, being ethical starts with our materials, sourcing from suppliers we know and trust, who also share a commitment to sustainable manufacturing.  This means supporting organic farmers, natural dyes based from Ayurvedic principles, traditional arts like hand weaving, and recycled and reclaimed components.  In fashion, if you're not part of the solution, chances are you're contributing to the problem.  Seeing the devastating effects of this industry can be quite motivating as far as the energy and resources it takes to search for alternatives to the "conventional" sourcing and manufacturing of materials. 

Why is ethical fashion important to you?

Our commitment to ethical fashion is very personal.  After working in the fashion industry for over a decade, I found that I was unable to tolerate the toxic off-gassing that occurs from leathers that are processed with high VOC, formaldehyde, and heavy metals.  Upon further research into the leather industry, I found that it was an all around bad situation.  Starting from the rainforest land that has to be cleared, to the processing of the skins, and finally the exposure of workers to countless life threatening chemicals that are proving to be nearly impossible to clean up in our environment.  Leather processing facilities are top on the EPA's list for pollution which is why most tanneries have gone abroad.  I could go on an on, but you get the message.  I made a promise to myself to be part of the solution and was lucky enough to find a partner with the same ideals.  Rushali, the other half of BHAVA is a lifelong vegetarian and committed to animal's rights, together we each have our areas of expertise and have complete respect for each other's beliefs.  BHAVA is the realization of our mutual respect for each other, this planet, and all it's inhabitants.

What is one thing you'd like people to know about ethical fashion?

For starters, I'd like people to just know that ethical fashion exists!  To be honest, it wasn't until my health was directly affected by that my eyes were opened.  Life changing moments happen to all of us, it's about how we embrace these challenges and use them to push forward that will determine where we end up.  I didn't fight my truth, I used this new energy to create a new improved version of what I wanted my life to be.   I became obsessed with learning as much as possible about ethical fashion. Attending FIT's Sustainable Design certificate course and any events I could find on the topic has only further reinforced that ethical fashion is where I want to contribute, and hopefully inspire others to also get involved.  Over a year ago I started the Ethical Fashion Academy just for the purpose of raising awareness and to bring the community together.

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