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The Story of a Famous Crocodile

by Mihaela Schwartz (follow)
Fashion Designer (2)      Clothing Brand (1)     
You have seen the Lacoste crocodile many times in the street. You probably even have one in your own wardrobe. Have you ever wondered what the story behind the world’s most famous crocodile is?

Image: Wikimedia Commons

The first clothing brand to have ever supported sports and sportsmen, Lacoste is an iconic fashion name and a design house that stands for simplicity and fairness. Its story goes back to 1927 when René Lacoste made a bet with the captain of the French tennis team. The winner of a game was to win an alligator skin suitcase René Lacoste had set his eyes on. As a sign of support, Robert George (one of Lacoste’s friends) embroidered a crocodile icon on the Tshirt the latter wore during this game.

Another version of the story behind the iconic Lacoste Tshirt (the best known product the brand has ever issued on the market) refers a special shirt design René Lacoste came up with during his tournaments in the United States, where the heat was suffocating. The first model appeared in 1927 and was adorned by a crocodile, designed by Robert George, and inspired by the nickname (Alligator) the Americans gave to the tennis player because of his style and tenacity.

Three times winner of Roland Garros during the late 20s, René Lacoste also scored two victories at Wimbledon and two victories in Forest Hill. René Lacoste’s sports career was short as he was forced to quit tennis at the age of 25 for health reasons. His conversion was rapid and in 1933 he began a career as a businessman together with, a fashion designer that had already created the Jil brand and patented knitwear. The same year they released their first collection of models designed not only for tennis but also for golf and sailing, all decorated with the famous crocodile. It was for the first time in the clothing trade that the mark appeared on the outside of the piece of clothing.

The Lacoste shirt means a real evolution for tennis players, who were beforehand wearing on the courts, the classic dress shirts of woven fabric with long sleeves. The first Lacoste shirt was white with short sleeves. Its knit jersey fabric was light and airy. But Lacoste continued to work on its image and in 1951, a range of colors appeared. A collection of children was launched in the 60s, including shorts and striped polo shirts. In 1963, René Lacoste invented the first tennis racket in steel: an innovation that challenged the supremacy of the wooden racket and paved the way for today’s models.

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