With their original prints, hand embroidered details and flattering cuts, Agua by Agua Bendita’s designs channel the sophisticated charm of the tropics. The label’s founders, Catalina Alvarez and Mariana Hinestroza, already ran a successful swimwear brand, although they dreamed of launching a luxury resortwear line that bolstered artisanal handcrafted designs and was also environmentally conscious. To bring that idea to fruition they partnered with Sí Collective co-founders Isabella Behrens and Cloclo Echavarría —And so Agua by Agua Bendita was born.
Latin America’s biodiversity, culture and history are constant sources of inspiration for the label, which pays tribute to the region’s natural wealth in prints that range from palm trees to corals and orchids. Each motif is hand painted and digitised; some are also selected to be developed as embroideries which, depending on their intricacy, can take the seamstresses up to 18 days to complete. These unique handcrafted pieces, at once romantic and refined, can be worn day and night, dressed down for a relaxed seaside celebration or up for special occasions like weddings.
Empowering Female Artisans
At the heart of Agua by Agua Bendita lies their work with female artisans whose outstanding embroidery skills would cement the label’s reputation for quality. From the very beginning, Hinestroza and Alvarez partnered with seamstresses from the outskirts of Medellín, their hometown, which at the time was submerged under a wave of violence. This made it difficult and even dangerous for the women to travel from their remote communities to work at the city center, while also having to leave their children behind unattended. In response, Hinestroza and Alvarez created the AB Hearts Program. Comprised of mothers who work from home, the program enables them to look after their children and provide them with the care and education they need to thrive. Today, Agua Bendita works with over 500 female heads of household who handcraft and embroider the label’s designs.
They also focus on creating sustainably, which is why all their dresses are 100 percent linen, a natural fiber that is durable, biodegradable and produced in an environmentally friendly way. Meanwhile, their swimsuits are made from recycled plastic bottles and their algae tags are completely compostable.
The natural world is central to our brand, although we are also greatly inspired by the Latin American woman, who is proudly feminine but tenacious nonetheless. Like the environment that surrounds her, our woman is wild, raw, majestic and not as delicate as she might appear.
— Catalina Alvarez and Mariana Hinestroza, founders