- The Origin: Rene Lacoste
- The Lacoste Polo is Born
- Sporting Fashion
- Creative Director: Christophe Lemaire
- 75th Anniversary
- Creative Director: Felip Oliveria Baptista
- Acquired By Maus Freres
- 80th Anniversary Logo
- Current Situation
The origin begins with René Lacoste (1904-1996) during his tennis career he wore a small crocodile embroidered on the pocket of his jacket and he was called “the Crocodile.” Maybe due to his fierceness or perhaps because a certain bet with his team captain where the prize happened to be a suitcase made in alligator skin. In any case, Lacoste embraced the name to the point of getting the crocodile embroidered on his blazer and as simple as that, the tennis myth came along with a clothing legend.
Officially in 1926 Lacoste, a practical man, adopted the short-sleeved shirt for both on and off the tennis court. Since then, his style has inspired the so-called functional elegance. In 1933 René Lacoste retired from tennis, founded La Société Chemise Lacoste with André Gillier, then designed and decided began to produce a button-neck short-sleeve sweater in white piqué cotton, with a small green crocodile embroidered on the left side of the chest. The garment was immediately successful as sports clothing, especially in tennis and golf, thanks to having a longer back than front, so as to remain well tucked inside the pants even after large or brisk movements.
In 1941 he was appointed as President of the Fédération Française de Tennis, meanwhile he infused colorful life to his clothing line with a range of tones on the polo shirts, in addition sneakers and the first children collection were conceived.
In 1963, Bernard Lacoste took over the management of the company from his father René. Significant company growth was seen under Bernard’s management. Also, at this time Lacoste jerseys were manufactured in 4 colors, in 1967 in 21, and were equally suited to men, women and children. By the end of 1963 around 300,000 products were sold annually.
Success and diffusion arrived during the 1960s when sporting fashion became more popular. The brand reached its height of popularity in the US during the late 1970s and became the signature 1980s “preppy” wardrobe item, even getting mentioned in Lisa Birnbach‘s Official Preppy Handbook of 1980.
Creativity and innovations have been always center points at Lacoste, therefore in 1970 Ruben Torres was appointed as fashion designer. He had many outstanding achievements during this period, including the creation of the memorable advertising campaign “Crocodiles”, the first boutique on Avenue Victor Hugo, Paris and the fragrances collection embodying the joie de vivre feeling characteristic of the brand.
In 1986 Guy Paulin is appointed Fashion Designer. The world was changing quickly and in 1996 the first Lacoste website was launched under the direction of Gilles Rosies as Fashion designer, appointed in 1994. At this time, the company also began to introduce other products into their line including shorts, perfume, optical and sunglasses, tennis shoes, deck shoes, walking shoes, watches, and various leather goods.
Lacoste is known for their crocodile logo plus several other key DNA elemnts. This includes stripes, color blocking, piping, rib knit sweaters, punch (tennis racket handle material)，monochrome, and net pattern. The style has always been for people with a preppy wardrobe who play a lot of tennis or golf.
In 2000 the new creative director was Christophe Lemaire, a “student” of Christian Lacroix. He had the task of introducing the brand towards modernity, though remaining linked to its sport roots. He took over from Gilles Rosier, who had widened the crocodile’s horizon of sportswear. But it was until the arrival of Christophe Lemaire, that Lacoste’s first fashion show was presented in New York City, 2003.
Also, an agreement was signed with Samsonite for the manufacture and distribution of leather goods. The diversification is transverse compared to the other three areas of business: activewear, which represents 20%, sportswear with 60% and Club clothing. By 2001 consolidated turnover was €850 million, +8% compared to 2000: 75% was represented by clothing.
In May of 2002 Lacoste eyewear aimed at the Brazilian market. The Group L’Amy, which produces and distributes the crocodile’s glasses, signed a distribution and production license agreement with Technol Group, a South-American eyewear producer. Also, this year 600,000 pieces of leather goods were sold, generating a turnover of €10 million.
In January of 2003 the company opened a store on Fifth Avenue, New York. By the end of 2003 the brand is distributed in 120 countries and has 718 own-brand boutiques, 433 in Europe, 156 in Asia and 129 in America, most of them franchised. 65% of Lacoste is in the hands of the Lacoste family, now in the second generation; the remaining 35% is owned by the French company Devanlay, which also produces and distributes clothing. In the last ten years, the annual growth rate has been constant around 8-12%, transforming a single-manufactured brand, the shirt, into a lifestyle. The shirt, however, is the best selling item and is still produced as it was originally, using 38.63 miles of Egyptian or Peruvian cotton and mother-of-pearl buttons. The Italian market ranks third for importance, with about €70 million of turnover.
Lacoste relaunches its “1963 tennis shoe” with contemporary colours and patterns. The shoes style is named “RENÉ” in tribute to their inventor. Then, in 2006 the René Lacoste foundation is created. Its mission is to support and fund projects for children to transmit key values through sport.
In 2008 Lacoste celebrates its 75th anniversary. To celebrate its 75th anniversary, Lacoste looked back on its tennis history by fast-forwarding 75 years to the year 2083 and how tennis will be played in the future. Through a 3D TV, A space age tennis player showed off his new moves on a new court. Meanwhile, Lacoste released another video to explored champion tennis player, Andy Roddick’s vision of tennis past present and future. Other videos explored the connection Lacoste brought to the game of tennis of the past and tennis of the future through its present as a sportswear powerhouse.
In 2010 Portugese designer, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, becomes the new fashion designer of Lacoste. He offers an essential reinterpretation of the brand values.
Also that year, Lacoste creates the Lacoste lab in collaboration with fashion designer Christophe Pillet to promote innovation.
Then, in 2011 Lacoste opens new flagship stores, designed by Christophe Pillet, in Paris and Hamburg. Also at this time, 53 million Lacoste products have been sold through 1,165 stores and over 2000 departments stores across 114 countries. The brand claims, two crocodiles were sold every second.
In November 2012 Lacoste was bought outright by Swiss family-held group Maus Frères. Also, for the first time, Lacoste opens a boutique in Paris entirely focused on women. Next to that, they open their first store in Shibuya, Tokyo, followed by Miami and a new flagship store in Knightsbridge, London. The brand re-strategized their social media and now the facebook page attracts 10 million followers.
In 2013 for Lacoste’s 80th birthday, they released an anniversary logo along with an exclusive collection of high-end wares. The items in collaboration with Maison Francaises range from leather goods, to jewelers and bakeries, producing everything from crocodile duffels to eclairs. The whole set goes on display at Colette in Paris starting June 10th.
In 2014 Lacoste is named the official partner for the Olympic and Paralympic French teams.
In 2016 Lacoste opens a new flagship store in the World Trade Center, New York, followed by one in Paris.
In February 2017 in honour of the brand’s 85th birthday, Lacoste announces that they will swap New York Fashion week for Paris fashion week for the SS18 collection. Also, tennis player Novak Djokovic was named brand ambassador for Lacoste. This obligation includes a five-year contract and he will appear in advertising campaigns.
Today the brand is continually evolving, is always fresh and dynamic as his founder. Now in an environment where the “casual Friday” occurs almost everyday, this is transformed for good into “casual elegance” and thrilling collaborations like the latest between Lacoste and Supreme are happening as a response to the changing times.