The Bottle that Broke the Internet: Why Gen-Z is obsessed with Owala bottles

Owning an aesthetic, trendy water bottle has been all the hype this year. Join ALAYNA MIN TAN as she dives into the Owala bottle trend, and figures out if the bottles are worth all the hype. 


Alayna Min Tan   

Hype Social Media Manager

Hype Issue #59

Published on
June 21, 2024

If you haven’t already noticed, water bottles have become the hottest accessory of the year. Scrolling through your TikTok feed, you may notice vibrant, quirky Owala bottles in the hands of every influencer, fitness enthusiast, and even your eco-conscious friend. You may be wondering, “What is this brand, Owala, and where did they even come from?”

It’s almost as if overnight, Owala has transformed the humble tumbler from a practical hydration device into a cultural sensation. Welcome to the Owala craze—a seamless blend of practicality, style, and sharp social media savviness that has taken not just Singapore, but the world by storm. 

Having been a Nalgene-bottle-user my whole life, I never understood why people went crazy for metal water bottles. First it was the Hydroflask, with its contribution to the “VSCO girl” aesthetic, then came Stanley cups and the Stanley eco-system of high-quality drinkware. Personally, my trusty plastic water bottles always did the job, and I had never felt a need to hop onto the metal bottle craze.

Pet Sitter

32Oz Owala FreeSip bottle in the colour “Forresty”. Photo by Alayna Min Tan.

That all changed when Owala took the internet by storm and suddenly, everyone and their mothers owned an Owala bottle. Although founded in March 2020, Owala only started gaining popularity online in mid 2023. They went viral on TikTok for their bestselling FreeSip design, with a built-in straw and wide-mouth opening all in one lid. With five five sizes, more than 20 vibrant colourways, and having been crowned as one of Time’s best inventions of 2023 , how could we not be clambering to get our hands on one? And so, I snagged a 32-ounce FreeSip of my own in the colour “Forresty” early this year to answer the question for myself, “Is the hype for the Owala really justified?”

Unique FreeSip spout, allowing users to both sip through the small opening or drink as per normal. Photo by Alayna Min Tan.

The Review

The first thing I noticed about the bottle was that I greatly appreciated the practicality of the dual drinking lid, especially when I wanted to drink on-the-go. The larger spout opening allowed me to chug water without having to worry about spillage, and the built in straw allowed me to sip mindlessly, noticeably increasing my water intake. With these features, I said goodbye to the days of stopping in my tracks to get a sip of water, so as to not accidentally spill water all over my shirt.

The vacuum-insulated stainless-steel bottle allowed my water to stay cold throughout the day, a privilege I never got to experience with a plastic water bottle. Additionally, the leak-proof lock on the cap that doubles up as a handle ensured there was no water spillage on the occasions I chucked the Owala into my bag. My Forresty metal buddy followed me everywhere, from the gym to school. The bottle quickly became not just a utilitarian item, but a trendy accessory to bring along for any activity.

However, the bottle is not perfect. One thing to note is that there is a small detachable silicone piece in the cap that has proven to trap mould if not cleaned out properly. Mould poisoning is not something that I want to deal with any time soon, so I have been diligent in washing every part of my Owala bottle.

How Social Media Played a Part in the Craze

Apart from the creative design on the bottle, some credit should be given to platforms like TikTok and Instagram, which have been crucial in spreading the word about Owala. The hashtag: #Owala currently has 18.1K posts on Instagram and 16.8K posts on TikTok. Influencers and user-generated content have also played a big part in how the brand is perceived. Sharing aesthetic photo-dumps featuring the visually appealing water bottle have brought about a “want” to own an Owala, turning it into a viral accessory. Owala owners have taken it upon themselves to make videos decorating their Owalas with cute stickers, bottle boots, and keychains. These videos have garnered a lot of attention on TikTok with several of them getting hundreds of thousands of likes.

“Decorate Our Owalas Together” Video from @cl0udyches on TikTok

For those ready to join the Owala craze, if you’ve not already done so, these pretty bottles are readily available in Singapore. Owala bottles can be found in retail stores like Takashimaya, Tangs, and BHG, as well on online sites like Shopee and Lazada.

While it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of the latest trends, it is important to keep in mind the fine line between a want and a need. Today, the threat of consumerism is very real and understanding the implications of it can help us make smarter decisions with our purchases. The allure of owning every latest trendy item can sometimes overshadow the necessity of the purchase. Ultimately, Owala bottles were designed to be solving the problem of one-time-use plastic bottles or cups. With sustainability at the heart of the idea of reusable bottles, it would be an unfortunate irony to purchase all kinds of water bottles just to contribute to consumerism. So, if you already have a perfectly good water bottle, consider whether you truly need another one.

So, to answer the question, “Is the hype for the Owala really justified?” The answer really depends on what you are looking for. If a stylish hydration companion that you can bring everywhere is what you need, then the Owala might just be for you! But if you‘re just chasing the latest social media trend, you might want to re-evaluate your choices, and consider the broader impact of your purchases.