Lacoste History: The Story Behind the Iconic Crocodile Logo
Touting a full schedule of sporting events local to Southern California, the winter season once again debuts the fashion [and performance] of athletes and fans alike. From the tennis court to the fairway greens, an iconic embroidered crocodile has since 1933 transcended style and passion for the game; not to mention an international audience and a cult-like following. The brand continues its new global trend of the “Unconventional Chic” mantra, extending fashion-forward sportswear that allots consumers an experience of comfort and leisure with a touch of upscale elegance.
Rene Lacoste – originator of the brand and legendary tennis player who won three French Open titles and acquired two Wimbledon victories in the 1920s – was responsible for bringing the traditional white polo tee and embroidered crocodile to life. Alongside his wife, Simone, and daughter, Catherine, both award-winning professional golfers, Lacoste and his legendary family of athletes revolutionized fashion sportswear – even expanding their brand to include everything from high-end clothing and footwear, to fragrances, watches and eyewear, along with a home line of bedding and towels. Brand Ambassadors in tennis and golf are a natural fit, including the support of top ranked world golfers Yani Tseng and Cristie Kerr, as well as Virginie Lagoutte-Clément, Miguel-Angel Jimenez, Anders Hansen and Raphael Jacquelin.
Following in the acclaim of fashion notables Ruben Torres and Gilles Rosier, Felipe Oliveira Baptista brings new direction to the crocodile’s 2012 Spring Collection. Most recently, the label was guided by Christophe Lemaire for nearly a decade; securing a more streetwise vibe with bolder colors and new silhouettes. Baptista’s vision incorporates volume, color and fabrics that are intended to make movement “stylishly nonchalant.”
“The 2012 Spring Collection is not about reviving the past or updating references, but expressing what Lacoste is today, through a functional silhouette meant from him and her yet never unisex, and a complete and versatile wardrobe,” notes the fashion icon. “With an obsession for reconstructing essential pieces from scratch, the designer turns them into something totally new yet reminiscent of one’s personal history, strangely familiar. Nothing is what it looks [like at] first; the Lacoste signature pique dress gets softer when knitted in silk, sophisticated yet still casual when fastened in the back. Rugby shirts turn into hybrid dresses, their authentic striped fabric patched with solid colors in an architectural pattern. A tee-shirt dress has something of a 20’s bathing suit. Outerwear pieces are outfits in their own right when Vareuses jackets are cut in the thinnest lambskin.”
The collection would not be complete, of course, without Lacoste’s signature white petit-pique jersey polo tees and pastel favorites [including their classic looks of fitted khakis and white capri pants]. Fashion consumers both male and female will also see much of the striped-hooded sweatshirts and the V-neck striped collared sweater vests as staple pieces trending for the spring. However, for the stylishly sporty and more avant-garde clientele, there are edgier pieces of active wear utilizing faux leather trim.
Volume: Stretched proportions turn key Lacoste styles into new pieces. The polo dress comes full length or with exaggerated dropped armholes. Clothes meant to make each movement stylishly nonchalant.
Colors: Navy blue as the Lacoste timeless black, soft hues of grey, beige and caramel, with blocks or vibrant colors: flamenco red, Sumatra blue, deep jewel green, acid yellow.
Fabrics: From almost liquid fabrics to cotton and soft canvas. An art deco inspired print made of interwoven “L,” that comes in a silk georgette and wool voile. Leather details and trimmings, maxi cotton pique and oversized cotton linen knits.
It is interesting to see Lacoste’s vision of the crocodile evolve and progress, becoming a recognizable brand worldwide; reaching a wholesale turnover of 1.4 billion Euros, with 90 percent of sales in France alone and two Lacoste items sold every second internationally.
Looking back, who would have thought that the invention of the embroidered crocodile started as a nickname for Rene Lacoste – who held a reputation for being a tenacious player, never giving up on his prey; thus establishing the core values of the French label, while maintaining a competitive edge within the sporting industry. His vision was simple, having created the light and breathable cotton providing athletes the freedom of movement to play with a sense of ease. “The Lacoste polo shirt is more than a worldwide bestseller: the embroidered crocodile on the heart, gives it an undeniable touch of distinction. It is a symbol of relaxed elegance which perfectly embodies the ‘easy chic’ philosophy of the brand.”