Are Water Bottles a Status Symbol?

Water bottles–they’re an essential daily item that nearly everyone uses. But a number of magazines and websites have questioned the object themselves, as it appears that expensive reusable water bottles have become a status symbol among young people in the current era. Just as items like headphone brands or winter jackets, people carry around certain brands of water bottles that are intended to suggest a specific type of lifestyle and personality.

I think it’s intriguing how different social groups may adopt niche trends–namely water bottle trends. At my high school, the cool, sleek thing to have was a S’well bottle. Among the outdoorsy, active groups, you’re more likely to find a large Nalgene or Camelbak bottle. Among well-off students of all kinds at the University of Michigan, Hydroflasks are the big must-have item. Reusable bottles in general can suggest a variety of things–for one, the person cares about the environment–and that’s a great thing. Perhaps the person lives a very active lifestyle, and needs constant hydration. If the water bottle is pricier, it suggests that the person has the financial resources to afford such an object. With the addition of stickers, the personalization opportunities open up a whole new world of status.

Of course, expensive water bottles are also functional–they boast hours of insulation for cold and hot beverages, durability, and a long lifespan. It’s worth looking at the division between needing a well-designed water bottle for daily use, or purchasing an expensive, aesthetically-pleasing bottle because everyone else has the hottest trend and you want to fit in. I’m still not sure where I stand on this issue, I think it’s more complicated than a simple answer. What do you think?


Student at the University of Michigan studying Art & Design and Communications, hoping to create meaningful design for social impact.

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