We discover Uruguay with Marané and Alessandro Aquilina

In conversation with Alessandro Aquilina | 18th September 2020
Photo by Marané Content

We recently had the pleasure of speaking to Alessandro Aquilina who’s the Founder of swimwear brand Marané. The brand takes its name from a Guarani phrase meaning ‘a land without evil’. This perfectly describes the label’s hometown of Punta del Este in Uruguay, which strongly influences its collections

Tell us more about Marane & the core values/principles of the company.

Our brand rooted in Uruguay and the desire to infuse creativity and storytelling into each collection. To do this, we collaborate with artists and artisans to bridge the gap between art and fashion, moving beyond hype to a more thoughtful approach to design. Our past collections have included prints made by watercolours artists, linens sourced from one of the family-run mills in Ireland, and hand-embroidered homeware pieces that capture the coast and countryside in threaded sketches.

How did it start and how is the brand linked to Uruguay?

I grew up in Brazil, spending holidays in Uruguay by it’s coast and countryside. My mum is an avid collector of objects and stories and the region was a perfect environment for that. She’d work with painters, cabinet makers, carpenters and weaves who worked for weeks on just one piece. It was inspiring. I wanted to pay homage to, and work within, that tradition.

After leaving Brazil, I lived in hectic cities like New York and London. I’d travel back to Uruguay and feel time slowed down, an analogous feeling to when you’re in the sea, feeling weightless and still. So I began with swimwear, creating pieces to tell a story about a place, and this approach to living. We’ve been very fortunate to work with the most fantastic artists and artisans to expand our collection, always referencing back to the nature of Uruguay, both in the literal sense, and of their thoughtful way of life.

My sister runs a bakery and restaurant with that same ethos across the street from our store while my mum directs the design collection and my sister helps run the brand, so it really is a family business, with Uruguay at the heart of it.

If you were to do a Road trip through Uruguay, where would you stop?

Bias as it sounds, my sister’s place, La Linda, can’t be missed. The architecture of the place alone means people drive by and park, eager to find out what it is. They stop for the place, but stay for the food- a fully artisan bakery and superb organic produce- and we’re across the street for the second pit stop. We love to take visiting friends to Harras Godiva for horseback riding as the countryside of Uruguay is a must and it’s done right when done on horseback. You feel like a Gaucho too, which is a good way to kick off a trip. Narbona is a great vineyard, restaurant, delicatessen that showcases the best of Uruguayan produce in one unique space. For hotels, Playa and Bahia Vik are great and the Brazilian hotelier Rogerio Fasano made one of his most beautiful concepts here- a luxury offering that feels very specific to the place. Our favourite dinner spot is El Abrazo and for bars, Ferona, which comes alive after 2am with musicians from all over who come to play by the fire until dusk.

We’ve read a lot about traditional Uruguayan food, If you were hosting the KOBU team, what would you make?

You can tell a lot about a place and its people by the way they eat. For the Uruguayans, nothing showcases their way of life more than an asado. It’s the South American answer to a BBQ- totally communal, laid-back, slow cooking. Everyone is welcome, nothing is rushed and it’s the campo- being in nature and what that brings out in people- at it’s best.


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