PARIS — An all-encompassing handle for innerwear that is intended to make customers feel good — well-being — is among the industry’s fastest-growing trends and categories.

Spawned by the growth of health spas and meditation-oriented practices such as yoga, the term is an umbrella for a rising number of brands that are making a priority of natural fabrics and comfort-oriented, nurturing elements in their designs. It also spills over to merchandising and customer service.

“Well-being is a modern concept that goes with the look and feel of a collection down to its packaging and service — it’s about anything that’s geared to making a customer feel good,” said Chantal Malingrey, executive director of trade show producer Eurovet’s lingerie division.

A growing number of textile manufacturers are peddling products geared to the trend.

“After years of experimentation, firms are delivering well-being-oriented fabrics, such as micro-encapsulated textiles injected with aloe vera, say, or essential oils,” said Anne-Lise Thauvin, exhibition manager for Eurovet’s Interfilière section.

Thauvin noted a rise in feather-light, ultrasoft fabrics, as well as eco-friendly textiles.

“We’ve noted a rising trend for customers overlooking fashion brands for innerwear made from supersoft cottons with elegant finishes that are, above all, comfortable,” said Lilia Bondarchuk, chief brand manager for Russian chain stores Wild Orchid and Bustier.

Bondarchuk cited Italy’s Cotton Club, which delivers fashionable but snug innerwear. Veronique Fremont, owner of Parisian lingerie boutique Emilia Cosi, said women are demanding all-silk or cotton pieces for “cocooning” at home that work as comfortable, but elegant basics.

Popular brands include Italian label Verde Veronica’s cotton and linen nightshirts tricked with lace, and elegant basics by Cotton Club and Armani, Fremont said.

Belgian lingerie designer Carine Gilson, who opened a Paris boutique in June, believes well-being is also linked to a return to luxury. Gilson’s bras, for example, come entirely covered in silk, and her labels are sewn into garments to avoid irritation.

French buyer Cathy Abruzzo launched her well-being innerwear collection, Peau Ethique, or Ethical Skin, for adults and infants in 2004.

Certain lines, like British brand Aloe and New York loungewear brand Skin, have hit the spa circuit.

This story first appeared in the July 17, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“My pieces work particularly well in health resorts,” said Skin’s designer, Susan Beischel, whose pieces are made from 100 percent pima cotton. “Spa clients like to wear something that makes them feel pampered, like their environment. The smallest details in the collection are created to support emotional and physical well-being.”

Laurence Dekowski, director of Le Bon Marché’s lingerie department in Paris, said best-selling brands include well-being lines inspired by yoga, dance and gymwear.

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