The Agua by Agua Bendita storefront in Dallas' Highland Park Village marks the first U.S. brick-and-mortar location from the luxury resortwear brand. (Photo by Victoria Saperstein)
Inside Agua by Agua Bendita's first American retail space in Highland Park Village. (Photo by Victoria Saperstein)
Lovely textiles also lavish the walls at Agua by Agua Bendita. (Photo by Victoria Saperstein)
Agua by Agua Bendita enlisted Dallas-based Scout Design Studio to help design their first U.S. pop-up. (Photo by Victoria Saperstein)
A row of Agua by Agua Bendita dresses, all handmade in Colombia. (Photo by Victoria Saperstein)
Agua by Agua Bendita swimsuit, pareo, and dress at the Dallas pop-up. (Photo by Victoria Saperstein)
A courtyard view of Agua by Agua Bendita in Highland Park Village. (Photo by Victoria Saperstein)
Agua Bendita swimsuits, marked by elegant prints and intricate embroidery, recently began filtering into Dallas through stores like Neiman Marcus or boutiques like Nicole Kwon. In a sea of polyester sameness, Agua Bendita’s handmade suits are head-turners, eliciting the kind of “where’d you get that” response that spreads like wildfire. And though we’ve picked up bits and pieces about the luxury label (it’s women-owned, it’s based in Colombia, it’s environmentally conscious), co-founders Catalina Alvarez and Mariana Hinestroza wanted a more experiential way to share their story in the United States. The first American retail space for Agua by Agua Bendita opened in Dallas’ Highland Park Village this January.
“So many of our clients are from Dallas,” Alvarez tells PaperCity, when asked how the co-founders landed on the city for the label’s first U.S. store. “Having the opportunity to showcase the brand in its entirety, that’s something you can’t do with wholesalers.”
And the Agua Bendita story is a beautiful story to share. Alvarez and Hinestroza, both of whom were born in Medellín, Colombia, met while studying fashion design at university and soon began playing with leftover patchwork using Alverez’s grandmother’s sewing machine.
“We were 19 years old and dreamed of dressing our friends to go to Cartegena in the most beautiful, unique swimsuits,” Alvarez recalls.
They launched their swimsuit brand, Agua Bendita, in 2003, and became one of the first Colombian companies to export local fashion in 2007 — the same year one of their suits was featured on supermodel Bar Refaeli in Sport Illustrated. When it became clear they’d need more hands to craft their handmade suits, they looked to their hometown, connecting with groups of skilled women artisans through family and friends.
“There are so many women living in the countryside who don’t have jobs because they’re staying home with their children,” Alvarez shares. “Our biggest ability right now is to take care of them and help them work from their homes, raise their children, and have a job that empowers them.”
In 2018, the duo was ready to extend their eye for exquisite detail beyond suits and launched the luxury resortwear label Agua by Agua Bendita as a ready-to-wear companion piece to their elevated swimwear.
Agua by Agua Bendita Dallas
The Agua by Agua Bendita pop-up space in Highland Park Village, situated in an airy spot previously occupied by Reformation, is filled with framed, hand-embroidered pieces from past collections, including the brand’s capsule collection with Gucci Vault. “That was one of the most striking moments for the brand,” Alvarez notes.
The duo partnered with Dallas-based Scout Design Studio to bring the Agua story to brick-and-mortar life, crafting a thoughtfully curated space that showcases both Colombian elegance and Texas charm.
“Colombia is a country with so much history — we want to share the story of our home and how far it’s come through our garments,” says Alverez. “It’s a really beautiful process.”
The Dallas Agua by Agua Bendita pop-up opened in December and was originally slated to end on January 31, 2024. It has now been extended through March 2024 at 34 Highland Park Village.