NEW YORK, Feb 5, 2002 (Updated Sep 19, 2009) / FW/ — The history of Lacoste reads like a history of tennis. It was founded by legendary tennis player René Lacoste, who with his teammates “The Musketeers” won the Davis Cup in 1927.

Designer Christophe Lemaire on the runway
Designer Christophe Lemaire on the runway

Even the crocodile logo associated with the brand came from tennis. René Lacoste was nicknamed “The Crocodile” by the U.S. press.

According to the official Lacoste company history, in 1927, René Lacoste made a bet with the Captain of the French Davis Cup team concerning a suitcase made from alligator skin.

The team captain promised the formidable player that he would buy the suitcase for René Lacoste if he won every important match for the team. He did win all those matches, and since then, the young player became “The Crocodile.”

The logo was drawn by Robert George, a friend of René Lacoste, who in turn embroidered it on the blazer that he wore on the courts.

A true innovator, René Lacoste revolutionized the tennis men’s sportswear.

The traditional tennis court wear for men was a long sleeved starched shirt made of the classical woven fabric.

René Lacoste designed a shirt with short sleeves, a ribbed collar and slightly shorter than what was the fashion during those days.

Together with André Gillier, the owner of the France’s largest knitwear company during that time, the tennis champ set up a company to manufacture the crocodile logo embroidered shirt he designed.

Using a new fabric called “Jersey petit pique,” the first Lacoste shirt was born in 1933. This also mark the beginning of having the logo or brand outside, instead of inside.

And on its own, this action contributed to the logo craze and merchandising of sports related products which would become big in the latter half of the 20th century.

Both the company and label would have a steady growth through the years, except during World War II.

From the first Lacoste shirt, the crocodile would become one of the world’s most recognized logo, appearing on men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, footwear, perfume, leather goods, eyewear, watches, and underwear.

The original market of tennis enthusiasts would expand to the general public.

When René Lacoste died in 1996 at the age of 92, “The Crocodile” lived on. And like most great brands, it continues to adapt to the changing marketplace.

In May 2000, French designer Christophe Lemaire became the Creative Director of Lacoste, succeeding Gilles Rosier, also a French designer. Lemaire debuted for Lacoste during the Spring / Summer 2002 season.

In 2002, Lacoste joined the virtual world and launched

In 2003, 70 years after it was founded, Lacoste is sold in over 109 countries with a turnover of 860 million euros. It currently owns 731 Lacoste shops and 1700 corners.

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