Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to find someone who has not heard of the Lacoste name brand or seen a Lacoste polo shirt before. Founded in 1933 by a French tennis player named René Lacoste, the brand has grown to become unarguably one of the most famous and well-known in the world.
The origin of the now-famous Lacoste logo is an interesting one. Story has it that René Lacoste picked up the nickname “the Alligator” when rumors began floating around that he had made a bet with the captain of the French Davis Cup Team regarding an alligator skin suitcase. The official company statement from the website is that the captain of the team promised him an alligator skin suitcase if he won a very important match for the team. He won the match and was given the nickname by the American press after news about the bet was leaked. The nickname was shortly changed to “Le Crocodile” because of Rene’s French ethnicity and the name stayed with him due to his doggedness and aggressive behavior on the tennis court. Later on, a friend of his by the name of Robert George designed a small crocodile logo, which Rene affixed to his personal blazer that he wore while playing tennis.
When he retired from tennis in 1933, Lacoste partnered with André Gillier and started up the company La Chemise Lacoste. They began designing a tennis shirt based upon a design and product created by him in the mid-1920’s. The shirt was short-sleeved with a ridged collar. Designed to be worn during matches, the shirt was made from a very lightly woven material called jersey petit pique for maximum ventilation. Before the production of these new shirts, tennis players had traditionally worn long-sleeved woven shirts, so the new designs were practically unheard of. Another interesting side note is that contrary to popular fashion statement at the time, Lacoste decided to attach the logo on the outside of the shirt, something which had rarely been seen before. Thus, the legacy of the Lacoste polo shirt began, and since then, it’s been the norm to see clothing with the logo embroidered on the outside.
From the 1930’s to roughly the 1950’s the brand grew in popularity, and in the early 1950’s, Lacoste clothing began being imported to the United States where it was flaunted as a clothing line designed for the upper class. As time passed, the clothing line began expanding its products to include other styles of shirts and moved on to also include fashion accessories. In the early 2000’s, a French designer named Christopher Lemaire took over the design of the Lacoste brand in an effort to develop a more sleek and upscale look. As a result, the popularity of the apparel was rejuvenated and Lacoste clothing is now highly in demand and available in almost all high class department stores. The company also owns its own chain of stores and has several hundred stores throughout the world. Today, there are all sorts of Lacoste apparel, from hats to sunglasses. The most famous of course is and most likely always will be the original Lacoste polo shirt.