Lacoste is a French apparel company founded in 1933 that sells high-end clothing, footwear, perfume, leather goods, watches, eyewear, and most famously, tennis shirts. The company can be recognized by its green crocodile logo.
The company is currently run by the Lacoste family. Procter and Gamble is license-holder for the fragrance line. Lacoste is headquartered in Paris. Lacoste currently has its production capital in Troyes, France, though they delegate production of international clothing to numerous factories in over 12 countries around the world, including those found in Peru, Morocco, Indonesia, Romania and Italy. After a 2 year search in the Central American region, Lacoste established production for its US customers in the Miramar Free Trade Zone in El Salvador. El Salvador operations will be managed by a new the local subsidiary Textil El Salvador (TRANS).
René Lacoste was a famous tennis player who achieved fame in two areas: tennis and fashion.
After he retired from tennis, Lacoste founded La Chemise Lacoste in 1933 with André Gillier, the owner and President of the largest French knitwear manufacturing firm at the time. They began to produce the revolutionary tennis shirt Lacoste had designed and worn on the tennis courts with the crocodile logo embroidered on the chest, serving as the first example of a brand name appearing on the outside of an article of clothing. In addition to tennis shirts, Lacoste produced shirts for golf and sailing. In 1951, the company began to expand as it branched from "tennis white" and introduced color shirts. In 1952 the shirts were exported to the United States and advertised as "the status symbol of the competent sportsman", influencing the clothing choices of the upper-class.
In 1963, Bernard Lacoste took over the management of the company from his father René. Significant company growth was seen under Bernard's management. When he became president, around three hundred thousand Lacoste products were sold annually. The Lacoste brand reached its height of popularity in the US during the late 1970s and became the signature 1980's "preppy" wardrobe item, even getting mentioned in Lisa Birnbach's Official Preppy Handbook of 1980. The company also began to introduce other products into their line including shorts, perfume, optical and sunglasses, tennis shoes, deck shoes, walking shoes, watches, and various leather goods.
In the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, Izod and Lacoste were often used interchangeably because starting in the 1950s, Izod produced clothing known as Izod Lacoste under license for sale in the U.S. This partnership ended in 1993, when Lacoste regained exclusive U.S. rights to distribute shirts under its own brand. In 1977, Le Tigre Clothing was founded in an attempt to directly compete with Lacoste in the US market, selling a similar array of apparel, but featuring a tiger in place of the signature Lacoste crocodile.
More recently, Lacoste's popularity has surged due to French designer Christophe Lemaire’s work to create a more modern, upscale look. In 2005, almost fifty million Lacoste products sold in over one hundred and ten countries. Its visibility has increased due to the contracts between Lacoste and several young tennis players, including American tennis star Andy Roddick and French rising young prospect Richard Gasquet. Lacoste has also begun to increase its presence in the golf world, where noted 2 time Master champion, José María Olazábal and Scottish golfer Colin Montgomerie have been seen sporting Lacoste shirts in tournaments.
Bernard Lacoste became seriously ill in early 2005, which led him to transfer the presidency of Lacoste to his younger brother and closest collaborator for many years, Michel Lacoste. Bernard died in Paris on March 21, 2006.
As of 2006, Lacoste licenses its trademark to various companies. For example, Devanlay owns the exclusive worldwide clothing license, Pentland Brands has the exclusive worldwide license to produce Lacoste footwear, Procter & Gamble owns the exclusive worldwide license to produce fragrance, and Samsonite holds the worldwide license to produce Lacoste bags and small leather goods.
In June 2007, Lacoste introduced their very first e-commerce site for the US market.
Lacoste operates a large number of Lacoste boutiques worldwide; located as concessions in leading department stores and also as independent venue stores. In the UK, Lacoste is available from many leading high-end shops including KJ Beckett and John Lewis Partnership. Likewise in the US, the Lacoste brand can be found in stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, Macy's, and other independent retailers. In Canada, Lacoste is sold in Harry Rosen,its own boutiques, and other independent retailers. In Australia, Lacoste is sold in David Jones.
As of June 2007, Lacoste's online presence allows Americans to purchase clothing and have items shipped directly to their doors. The online store offers sizes and options not found in brick and mortar stores, along with a large sale section.
It’s Prep-school-meets-Crayola on the runway. With an emphasis on colour, those sporty tennis skirts, collegiate sweaters, and of course, piqued polos come in hues for anyone’s fancy.
Hipsters, Princeton preps, Audrey Hepburn, Andy Roddick