Behind The Crocodile: How Lacoste Became One Of The Biggest Sportswear Brands In The World

Behind The Crocodile: How Lacoste Became One Of The Biggest Sportswear Brands In The World

Lacoste, the iconic French fashion brand founded in 1933 by tennis legend René Lacoste and André Gillier, has carved a prominent place in the global fashion landscape. With its distinctive crocodile logo and a rich heritage rooted in sportswear, Lacoste has become synonymous with sport-inspired style.

Lacoste continues to captivate audiences with its fusion of sophistication, innovation, and a dash of athletic flair, from its origins on the tennis court to its contemporary presence in the fashion world.

The Visionary Founder – René Lacoste

René Lacoste, the visionary founder of Lacoste, was a renowned tennis player and a true pioneer in the fashion world. Born in 1904 in France, Lacoste displayed exceptional talent and passion for tennis from a young age. His dedication and tenacity on the court earned him the nickname ‘The Crocodile,’ a moniker that would later become synonymous with the brand.

Lacoste’s journey to create his own life began when he made a bet with his team captain. He wagered that if he won his next match, he would receive a crocodile-skin suitcase he had been admiring in a shop window. Although he lost the game, his determination and fighting spirit caught the attention of the American press, who dubbed him ‘the crocodile’ according to Brand Minds. This nickname quickly spread throughout the tennis world, and Lacoste embraced it wholeheartedly.

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Inspired by his nickname, Lacoste sought to create a brand that would embody the tenacity and style associated with the crocodile. In collaboration with André Gillier, the owner of a prominent French company, Lacoste embarked on his fashion venture. Their mission was to design sportswear that combined functionality with a refined aesthetic, catering to the needs of athletes while maintaining a sense of elegance.

A Revolution in Sportswear

In 1933, Lacoste and Gillier introduced their revolutionary creation—the Lacoste polo shirt. This iconic garment was crafted from breathable cotton and featured a unique ribbed collar and short sleeves. The polo shirt’s design allowed easy movement on the tennis court, making it a game-changer in sportswear.

The launch of the Lacoste polo shirt marked a turning point in the fashion industry. It was the first time a brand name appeared on the outside of an article of clothing, with the distinctive crocodile logo embroidered on the chest as per Lacoste. This bold move set Lacoste apart from its competitors and established the brand as a symbol of prestige and quality.

The Lacoste polo shirt quickly gained popularity among athletes and fashion enthusiasts alike. Its timeless design, vibrant colors, and impeccable craftsmanship appealed to a broad audience. The brand’s commitment to excellence and authenticity resonated with consumers, leading to a surge in sales and global recognition.

Lacoste’s Product Range, And Enduring Legacy

Over the years, Lacoste has expanded its product range to include a wide array of clothing, footwear, accessories, and fragrances. From classic polo shirts to tailored suits, from comfortable sneakers to stylish handbags, Lacoste offers a comprehensive collection that caters to its customers’ diverse needs and preferences.

Lacoste’s pricing strategy reflects its commitment to providing premium quality products. While the brand positions itself in the luxury segment, it also offers a range of more affordable options, ensuring accessibility to a broader consumer base. The price range varies depending on the product category, materials used, and design intricacy.

The success of Lacoste is evident in its remarkable sales figures. In 2005 alone, the brand sold nearly 50 million Lacoste products across more than 110 countries. This global reach and widespread popularity have solidified Lacoste’s position as a billion-dollar brand. In 2017, Lacoste roped in Novak Djokovic, one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, as their brand ambassador. The five-year contract with Djokovic is valued at a whopping $9.4 Million per year. In 2012, Maus Frères SA, a family-run business founded in Geneva, acquired Lacoste for a whopping $1.3 Billion as per JD.

Today, Lacoste has expanded to 98 countries with over 1100 stores. As Lacoste looks to the future, it continues to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing fashion landscape. The brand remains committed to its core values of elegance, sportiness, and enduring style while embracing innovation and sustainability.

Lacoste has collaborated with renowned designers and heritage brands to infuse its collections with fresh perspectives and contemporary aesthetics. These collaborations have breathed new life into Lacoste’s creations, pushing the boundaries of style and captivating the imagination of fashion-conscious individuals worldwide.

In a recent development, Lacoste entered into a global licensing agreement with Interparfums in late 2022. This 15-year partnership will pave the way for Lacoste to introduce a new line of perfumes in 2024. This move comes after Lacoste concluded its previous collaboration with Coty Inc., marking an exciting new chapter for the brand in the fragrance industry.

From its humble beginnings on the tennis court to its global presence today, Lacoste has remained true to its roots while embracing the challenges and opportunities of the fashion industry. With its iconic crocodile logo symbolizing elegance, sporting excellence, and enduring style, Lacoste continues to draw customers worldwide.

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Sources – JD, Lacoste, Brand Minds

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