Designer: Rene Lacoste
History: Already a successful tennis player winning seven Gland Slam titles in 1926/27, Lacoste found traditional ‘tennis whites’ too restrictive and uncomfortable. Watching his friend, George Horatio Charles Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley, playing in a more practical pique-cotton polo shirt he had a great idea. Commissioning an English tailor to make a few shirts they were soon the choice of many.
Lacoste debuted his shirt at the US Open in New York City in 1926. In 1927, the result of a successful wager he’d made with the French Davis Cup captain, he was given an alligator-skin suitcase that he’d seen in a Boston store. Christened “the Alligator” by the US press, in France their contemporaries nicknamed him “the Crocodile”. His friend Robert George embroidered a crocodile onto a blazer that Lacoste wore for his matches.
Retiring from tennis in the early 1930s, he and André Gillier started La Chemise Lacoste to produce his crocodile-branded shirts. By the early 1950’s the Lacoste tennis shirt arrived in the USA being trailed as “the status symbol of the competent sportsman,” an attempt to establish Lacoste in the upper echelons of society.
My Lacoste shirt: I was, apparently, a gifted tennis player at 12 or 13 and my parents thought that best to see me develop my talents with regular lesson with a man called Blenkarn – who’d been involved in the coaching of the British Davies Cup team. To me is seemed essential to wear the right motivational tennis shirt so my Grandmother – an inspiration woman and very enthusiastic shopper – bought me one – a yellow one, well it was the 1970’s. Nostalgia aside, rolling forward several decades my own kids wore as youngsters the same Lacoste shirts as worn by my wife and her siblings on their many visits to southern Europe, still colourfast after more than 20 years and still iconic whether or not you had any talent on the tennis court.
Your Lacoste shirt😕
Photos by Lacoste