As a label, Lacoste is forever associated with the game of tennis – due in no small part to the Grand Slam success of the brand’s founder René Lacoste. The Frenchman didn’t just dedicate himself to a life on the courts, he practically invented its sartorial make-up. Or, at least, the top part: he’s the father of the game’s favoured garb, the timeless polo shirt.
Made from breathable cotton pique, as opposed to the starchy, cumbersome tennis whites that restricted players since Victorian times, Lacoste introduced his innovation in the 1926 US Open championship. By that time, Lacoste’s ferocious style of play had already earned him the nickname “the crocodile”, and when a friend doodled the reptile on a pocket of his blazer a now-iconic logo was born.
Lacoste's latest range
Lacoste's latest range
(From clockwise): bag £175; trainers £75; tracksuit £150; racquet £415; polo shirt £60; watch £135; sunglasses £105; all lacoste.com
Polo shirt, £60; lacoste.com
Shorts, £65; lacoste.com
René Lacoste wearing his embroidered crocodile motif
Over the ensuing decades this functional piece of sportswear kit migrated off the courts to become a symbol of sophisticated sporting style. That hit a peak during the Eighties when it became a wardrobe staple among two unlikely sets of lads: the preppy American elite, and the British working-class subculture known as “Casuals”.
Tennis kits have long provided fashionable fodder – look no further than the recent resurgence of Adidas’ Stan Smith tennis shoes for proof of that – but Lacoste was more technically minded than most. Instead of just confining his maverick talents to clothing, he invented a (literally) game-changing metal racquet in 1963.
More than 50 years later, that racquet is the inspiration for the brand’s latest launch. Dubbed the LT12, the modern racquet is handmade from three types of wood – walnut, lime and balsa – and also contains graphite for lightness and strength.
Sitting alongside this new racquet is a capsule collection: of course there are the obligatory tennis whites, courtesy of a polo shirt, trainers, sunglasses and even a watch. Contrast piping details on tracksuits and shorts give a knowing nod to the 1980s, while a quirky “Game, Set and Match” sweatshirt is perfect for attending Centre Court, come summertime.Reuse content