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The bamboo-made yarn in the DKNY Echo-Tech line makes products both breathable and eco-friendly. What was once known simply as a dietary staple of panda bears is now ushering in a new wave of eco-friendly goods made from this highly renewable material: flooring, bedding, clothing " even undergarments for men.

The Him Store (The Shops at Canal Place, 333 Canal St.; 595-6780; carries three lines containing bamboo, an ingredient that lets both the skin and the earth breathe a little more easily. Bamboo contributes to the comfortable, environmentally sound DKNY Echo-Tech, C-IN2 Bamboo and 2(x)ist Carbon lines. The fabric is made from yarn spun from bamboo plants and then blended with cotton to create a product that is breathable, soft and ideal for working out, according to Trellis Smith, a spokesperson for The Him Store.

The 2(x)ist Carbon line maximizes the effects of the naturally porous plant by burning bamboo into charcoal powder, which is fused with polyester to create a yarn. This process allows the fabric to wick sweat away from the body.

In addition to being a natural deodorizer, bamboo-made fabric wins points with environmentalists for its sustainability. It renews quickly, sucks in greenhouse gasses and releases oxygen. The dyes used to color the bamboo-infused products also are natural and minimally taxing on the environment.

Smith attributes the store's supply of eco-friendly products to a growing market of environmentally conscious shoppers.

'There's been a big push with green products," he says. 'A lot of manufacturers responded and came up with products to meet customers' demands. Those lines have been popular (at The Him Store) and have done well."

But, Smith says, this sector of eco-responsible consumers represents just one part of a broader market, one fueled by an increased demand for high-end undergarments for men.

'Over the past five years, there's been an upsurge in high-quality men's garments," he says. 'A lot of men want a lot of nice garments to wear under nice clothes. It's a very exciting market because it's growing."

The New Orleans-based store opened in October in The Shops at Canal Place. It specializes in high-end men's undergarments as well as loungewear, swimwear and accessories. Smith says plans to open more Him Store locations are in the works.

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