Latin American influence

Latin American influence

Latin American influence


Agua by Agua Bendita

Mannequins dressed in Latin American attire on display in a store.

Handmade by a network of 700 female artisans, Agua by Agua Bendita’s cool, contemporary collections stitch together Colombian craft and culture

Agua is now a global clothing brand, selling pieces that were handcrafted in Colombia to stores around the world – but co-founders Catalina Álvarez and Mariana Hinestroza will never forget how it all began. The friends, studying fashion in Medellín, would make their own bikinis to wear at beach parties. Others admired their colourful patchwork swimwear with elegant traditional embroidery, so they began to make more – 11 items a day, sourcing fabric offcuts from local factories and using Catalina’s grandmother’s sewing machine to piece them together. But soon demand had risen, and they needed help.

“In the countryside, women had no jobs because they were raising children, and all their knowledge was with culture and crafts,” says Catalina. “That is just what we needed. We now have more than 700 women who make our clothes, with all their family members participating in various ways. That network is something gorgeous we have created based on the knowledge of the people and our Latin American culture, bringing inspiration to the world.”

Following the rapid success of the swimwear after it was featured in Sports Illustrated, the company has expanded into luxury womenswear with a sister brand, Agua by Agua Bendita. Its vibrant colours and striking patterns evoke the art, nature and culture of Colombia – a source of pride to its founders, who grew up during a turbulent time in the country’s history. “Our city lived a transformation from violence as a way to express the lack of rights and opportunities, to art looking to raise the voice of people on issues that matter to our community. We founded our brands as channels to portray the beauty of our region, our flora and fauna. And as a way to show the world the talent of our people.”

As the brand grows, Catalina and Mariana are considering expanding to new categories such as homewear. For now, their focus remains on women – those who make their clothes and those who wear them. “It’s very special to know we make clothes for women in Europe, Asia and the Middle East,” says Catalina. “When you have an Agua by Agua Bendita dress in your hands, you perceive everything that is behind it. They are art pieces and that’s why people love to collect them.”