July 20, 2019

Expensive Water Bottles As Millennial Status Symbol

“The potential judgment of students can lead a teacher to do strange things. For Monique Mongeon, an arts educator in Toronto, starting a job teaching adults sparked a small crisis of confidence. “I was in my mid-20s, and I was looking at things I could do to make myself feel like a person who had authority to stand in front of a bunch of other 20-somethings,” she says. After ruling out fancy bags and shoes as too extravagant, Mongeon settled on a sleek $45 water bottle. “I was scrolling through websites thinking, Which of these S’well bottles looks like the kind of person I want to be?”

Nine years ago, there was only one S’well, and it was blue. Now you can get the curvy, steel-capped bottles in more than 200 size-and-color combinations, including some that look like marble or teakwood. Many are customizable with your initials. The big ones will hold an entire bottle of wine, and smaller versions are made for cocktails or coffee. Teens offer S’well bottles to propose to prospective prom dates. They’re a common sight in Instagram photos of artfully stuffed vacation carry-ons and aesthetically pleasing desk tableaux.

S’well’s success is impressive, but the brand has a host of competitors nipping at its heels in what has become an enormous market for high-end, reusable beverage containers. If nothing in S’well’s inventory calls out to you, maybe you’ll like a Yeti, Sigg, Hydro Flask, Contigo, or bkr. A limited-edition Soma bottle, created in collaboration with the Louis Vuitton designer Virgil Abloh and Evian (itself a legend of designer water), was recently feted at New York Fashion Week. VitaJuwel bottles, which can cost more than $100, promise to “restructure” your tap water using the power of interchangeable crystal pods.”

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