Ten years ago, when I was in college, plastic Nalgene bottles were all the rage. If you were headed to class or the gym and needed hydration on the go, one of the few options in the college bookstore were those blue or pink utilitarian bottles made by a company known for making lab equipment.
These days, however, the water bottle market has exploded. The annual sale of reusable beverage containers is more than $1.5 billion in the U.S. and the industry is only growing.
The market is very fragmented, with a wide range of different brands in play. You can find bottles made from every material imaginable and at a wide array of price points. Swell made a splash with elegant stainless steel bottles with funky patterns on them. LifeFactory makes glass bottles with silicone sleeves. For a simple plastic bottle, there's CamelBak or trusty Nalgene.
Soma, a brand known for creating beautiful water filter pitchers, is adding its name to this list with a glass water bottle that launches today.
Mike Del Ponte, Soma's founder and CEO, believes that the boom in water bottles has happened for two reasons. First, Americans have been more interested than ever in health and wellness, and a crucial part of that equation is hydration. Second, as part of the athleisure trend, a hip water bottle has become part of the current sporty look. "We're dressing like we just came from a yoga class, whether or not we're actually coming from a yoga class," Del Ponte says. "The water bottle has become a fashion accessory."
While the water bottle market is crowded, demand for water bottles does not appear to be slowing down. In fact, many people buy many water bottles for different activities or to match different outfits. You might have a heavy glass water bottle for the office and a lighter stainless steel one to throw in your bag. As Del Ponte studied the market, he believed there was room for another player, one focused on sustainability and minimalistic aesthetics.
The Soma design team mulled over every aspect of the design. They chose to make the bottle out of a lightweight glass because other materials, such as metal or plastic, can affect the flavor of the water. The cap is made from sustainable bamboo and carries some of the design elements from the brand's pitchers, which have wood handles. And the shape of the mouth was carefully constructed to make the drinking experience as pleasant as possible.
The silicon sleeves come in four colors: gray, white, eggplant, and teal. "While the pitchers are meant to stay in the kitchen, where the most common color is white, the colors of these bottles are meant to reflect the vibrancy of an active lifestyle," Del Ponte explains. "We'll be releasing more colors over time."
At $30, these 17 ounce bottles sit at the more premium end of the market, alongside Swell. They will be sold on the Soma website and at select retailers such as top yoga studios.
Although Soma has been known for its water pitchers, Del Ponte has been keen to build his brand around the idea of hydration, rather than a specific product. He wants the company to elevate every aspect of the water drinking experience with better design, sustainable materials, and an emphasis on giving back. (The company donates a portion of its profits to Charity Water.) In the upcoming months and years, Del Ponte says that the company will continue to design other products related to hydration.