Lacoste is a retail clothing store that is well-known as a leader in preppy brands. It’s been in business for more than eight decades. Lacoste has an interesting history and back-story with a highly acclaimed founder. There’s a lot more behind Lacoste than the clothing and accessories that it sells. We’ve learned some interesting facts about Lacoste and think you’ll enjoy the information as well, so here are 20 things that you didn’t know about Lacoste.
1. Lacoste opened its doors in 1933
The company has been in business for a long time. It was founded by Rene Lacoste and his partner Andre Giller in 1933. The first business was opened in Troyes, France. When it was first started, it had a different name. The first retail store was named La Chemise Lacoste. The name was changed during the early years of the business and shorted to just Lacoste.
2. The founder was a champion tennis player
Rene Lacoste was a famous professional tennis player in the 1920s. He made a remarkable impression on the world of tennis when he won several Grand Slams at French Internationals tennis competitions. He took five wins at these events between 1925 and 1929. He also won three events at Wimbledon as well as taking 2 more victories at the U.S. Championship. He had earned the distinction of being the number one top tennis champion for 1926 and 1927. He went on to play in the 1930s as well
3. Rene Lacoste designed the first Lacoste polo shirt for himself
During the 1920s, most of the attire traditionally used by tennis professionals lacked the comfort that Rene Lacoste required when he played. He knew that he could perform better if he was wearing something more comfortable. This is what led him to design the first Lacoste polo shirt. It was made for his use on the courts. He invented the signature polo shirt and it became popular later when he introduced it for sale to the public after establishing his retail store Lacoste.
4. The crocodile logo is actually Rene Lacoste’s nickname
Rene Lacoste was called the crocodile as a nickname he earned on the court. He was determined on the court and was as perseverant as a crocodile. Another reason he was given the name is that at one point, he engaged in a tennis match that had a crocodile skin suitcase on the line for a prize. If he won the match, he’d win the case. This is one of the fun facts about Lacoste that many people are not aware of. This is one of the reasons why the preppy clothing sports the famous crocodile logo.
5. The first Lacoste customers didn’t have a store to shop from
When Rene Lacoste and his partner first opened the business, there was no brick and mortar establishment to shop from. The two businessmen developed a catalog that contained their first products. The catalogs were printed and distributed and items that were purchased were bought through the mail and the items were shipped out to their homes. This was before the time of the internet and the convenience of online shopping. It took a while to get your merchandise back in the 1930s, but the business was successful and the target audience was tennis players and professional athletes.
6. Lacoste has a connection with Star Wars
Nevermind the fact that Lacoste polo shirts have been seen on several popular music videos and movies. You can pick it out by the cute little croc that appears on the shirts. It has a very unique connection with one of the major actors in the Star Wars franchise. Actor Hayden Christensen who played the role of the adolescent and then adult Anakin Skywalkers in the films was the chief spokesperson for Lacoste’s Challenge brand fragrance, developed for men in 2009.
7. The logo was changed in 2018
It’s unusual for a major brand to change its logo. This is especially true for those who have been in business for more than 80 years, but Lacoste did make a change in their iconic crocodile logo. The temporary change was made only for a brief period of time, and it was for a very good cause. They suspended using the croc in favor of replacing it with 10 different animal species which are in need of help through conservation efforts. These were only manufactured for a limited run to help raise funds to prevent the extinction of many of the animals represented in the “Savethespecies” campaign. It was a move for Lacoste to participate in preserving the environment and the life that exists within it.
8. Peter Saville broke the rules and deconstructed the croc
Designer Peter Saville was charged with the task of redesigning the Lacoste brand of apparel. He was given one clear instruction, and this was not to interfere with the crocodile logo. This was like telling him it was his top priority. The designer set out to deconstruct the old croc and he came up with 40 different perspectives of the croc for consideration on ways to enhance or improve the logo for a new generation. He was told not to “touch” the crocodile, but this is precisely what he had done. It was all with the best intentions in mind though.
9. Lacoste kept the same color options for almost 30 years
There’s an old saying that says if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. This must have been what Rene Lacoste was thinking when he neglected to add any new alternative colors to his polo shirt line for almost thirty years. The white polo with the green croc became an iconic preppy shirt and top choice for athletes for decades. With times changing it just made sense to add more color options, so nearly thirty years later, they introduced a collection that included more color choices. It’s worth noting, however, that the original white polo with the green croc badge is still a highly popular choice.
10. Lacoste was one of the first to brand on the outside of clothing
Most clothing retailers kept the brand name limited to the inside of the garment on a tag. This wasn’t the case with Lacoste. They were proud to log their garments so everyone would know who made it. Actually, they were the second to do this as the Jantzen Swimwear brand was the first with their diving woman placed on swimsuits and caps. Between the two brands, the showed the rest of the retail world how effective this strategy was in providing for instant brand recognition.
11. Lacoste makes tennis rackets
Although the company started out with a simple catalog and sold now iconic polo shirts with a crocodile on them, they made much more. They also manufactured tennis rackets. In fact, they are the first company in the world to ever make a steel tennis racket. When you think about it, Rene Lacoste, the founder, was one of the greatest tennis players in the world during his time. He was also a futurist and an innovator who was known to be an inventor as well, so it just makes sense that his company would also specialize in tennis rackets.
12. Lacoste even made a tennis ball machine
This was yet another invention of Rene Lacoste. He used his skills as an inventor to build a tennis ball machine that would help him to work on his overhead swing. Many people don’t know this, but Rene Lacoste was an inventor who filed for a total of 20 patents during his lifetime. He retired from the sport of playing tennis in 1932 and he turned to invention as well as retail sales. He applied for these patents between the 1960s and the 1980s so it’s obvious what he did with his spare time upon retirement. He was a lifelong inventor.
13. Rene’s friend Robert George created the logo
The original Lacoste logo was created in 1927 by a friend of Rene Lacoste. Lacoste asked Robert George to take on the task and he gladly accepted the challenge. A capsule was released in his name after many years to show Lacoste’s appreciation for his significant contributions to the recognition of the brand.
14. Lacoste changed hands in 1963
Rene decided that it was time for him to move on to other endeavors. He allowed his son Bernard to take charge of Lacoste in 1963. The business would be kept in the family. This was a wise move for Rene to make because it was during the decade of the 1960s that the brand grew stronger and sales increased at a rapid pace selling around 300,000 products annually on average. During the following decade, Americans began buying more Lacoste products for leisure as well as for sports.
15. Lacoste international sales picked up by 2005
The brand which had originated in France was now popular and well-respected in 110 countries throughout the world. The brand had just started to become recognized in the United States during the 1970s. The iconic crocodile brand just kept getting more popular throughout the decades and by the early 2000s, it was one of the most prestigious and desired polo brands with athletes and the rising preppy generations.
16. Lacoste encountered a legal issue with their patent
Lacoste had struggled with a legal issue that had arisen because of a potential infringement on the patented crocodile logo. Crocodile garments didn’t have the same logo, but it was close enough to cause concern and establish a basis to engage in a legal action.
17. The business changed hands again in 2006
When Bernard Lacoste, the son of the founder Rene Lacoste died in 2006, the Lacoste business once again changed hands. It was passed on Michael Lacoste, Bernard’s younger brother in 2007. Michael made some modern changes to the business and developed a website for the store to sell their products. This meant that there would be greater access to the products that Lacoste offered throughout the world. Busy people could make their purchases from work or from the comfort of their homes without the need to go to a brick and mortar store.
18. The founder died in 1996 but left behind a legacy
Rene Lacoste passed away in 1996, but he had retired from the business in the early 1960s, passing it on to his eldest son. His granddaughter shared some interesting information about the founder. He was highly analytical and she shared that he took pages of notes when going up against an opponent in a tennis match. He made it a point to know who he was dealing with and how he needed to plan his strategies. She shared that this is how he approached nearly everything in business.
19. Lacoste doesn’t just sell shirts and tennis rackets
Although well-known and respected for their lines of croc bearing polos and innovative tennis rackets, these aren’t the only items that Lacoste sells. They also developed a line of perfumes and sunglasses. They added watches and shoes to the list in the early 2000s. They also sell a full line of golf attire as both Rene and his wife were closely associated with the sport. You can also find products that are related to sailing at Lacoste’s. They’ve expanded their lines dramatically in the past decade.
20. They created a line for the younger generation
Lacoste Live! is a line that the company created to attract a new generation of customers. The collection was introduced in 2011 and they also collaborate with popular streetwear brands including Beams & Junya Watanabe and Supreme. This new approach has brought attention to the preppy brand from a new audience who are looking for high-quality, a bit of prestige and impeccable good taste in their attire. Lacoste has made many wonderful changes within the past twenty years and they’ve shown the world that they are a business that is changing with the times and impressively, is keeping pace with growing customer demands and trends in buying patterns.