HISTORY OF LACOSTE
The Lacoste brand is the legend of a fantastic tennis player, René Lacoste, a member of the famous “Musketeers” team, and a star of the courts at Wimbledon, Forest Hills, and Roland Garros.
René Lacoste made a strong first impression in the world of tennis with his brilliant, strategic, and tenacious court strategy. He won the French Open three times (1925, 1927, and at Roland Garros Stadium in 1929), Wimbledon twice (1925 and 1928), and the U.S. Open at Forest Hills twice (1926 and 1927).
His exploits are those of a generation, which, in the early years of the 20th century really invented the sport as we know it today while remaining faithful to traditional values.
From these values and the idea of the sport to which they were linked, René Lacoste, the champion, invented sportswear.
Born in the early 1930s, the famous “1212” “petit piques” shirt was the answer to the specific requirements of a small elite group of sportsmen. Supported by the exploits of its founder and by the legendary crocodile, an emblem that quickly became famous, the “1212” soon became popular with the public and a great brand was born.
The Birth of the Crocodile
Who is not familiar with the Lacoste crocodile? It is one of the most famous and recognizable logos in the world. Its birth was accidental since it came from a simple bet between the members of the French tennis team in 1925.While walking through the elegant streets of the Boston , René Lacoste stopped in front of a boutique where his eye was drawn to a superb suitcase made of crocodile skin and he said to Pierre Gillou, the captain of the team, “If I win the match, you must buy me this suitcase.” In the days that followed, the story was told to a journalist and, although the French team did not win, the journalist reported the story, saying “The young Lacoste has not won his crocodile skin suitcase but he fought like a real crocodile.” As early as 1927, his friend and great sportsman, Robert George, designed a crocodile with its mouth wide open, which René Lacoste wore conspicuously on his blazer.
The Beginnings of an Industry
It was in 1927 that René Lacoste had made for himself a batch of shirts he said were “more comfortable to wear in the heat of the American courts.” These shirts were of a mesh material, which completely absorbed perspiration, and they caused a sensation on the courts.
Lacoste’s shirt allowed freedom of movement while remaining gracefully elegant. The shirt has redefined men’s sportswear, replacing the popular long-sleeved, starched, woven shirts of that day. Because it had a collar, it looked equally as graceful and refined on the tennis court as it did under tennis blazers and sweaters.
In 1933 Andre Gillier, the owner of one of the biggest and oldest hosiery factories in Troyes specializing in mesh materials, entered the scene and the two men joined forces and set up a company to manufacture the crocodile logo-embroidered pique knit shirt. They created “La Chemise Lacoste” and the brand name was registered in June 1933.
Lacoste continued to work on his inventions and designs until shortly before he died in 1996 at the age of 92. He left a global empire that was presided over by his son, Bernard Lacoste, who was the president of the Company from 1963 until his death in 2006.
In 2006, Mr. Franck Riboud, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Danone Group, and Director of Accor Group, L’Oreal, Renault, and Quicksilver, was appointed as new Director and Michel Lacoste, Bernard Lacoste’s closest collaborator, was appointed Chairman of the Board and CEO of Lacoste S.A.
Today, the legacy of this remarkable man is an expansive collection of sports and active wear for men, women, and children, as well as fragrance, eyewear, footwear, watches, and technical products for tennis and golf, which all display the famous crocodile. The largest logo product yet is a racing yacht!
Lacoste is a universal brand and appeals to a very wide range of fans. To own a piece of Lacoste is to truly own a piece of a legend!