When you see a person walking around with a small crocodile on the front of their polo shirt, you know what that means, right?
Of course you do! Those who pay even a little bit of attention to the fashion world know that the crocodile is associated with the Lacoste brand that has been around for almost 100 years now. It’s become one of the most iconic logos in the world over the last century.
But do you know the back story behind the Lacoste crocodile? Unless you consider yourself a Lacoste aficionado, there’s a good chance that you don’t know all there is to know about where it came from and how it has evolved over time.
Here are 7 things you probably didn’t know about the Lacoste crocodile until now.
1. Stems From a Nickname Given to Lacoste’s Founder in 1923
Way back in the early 1920s, a talented young French tennis player named Rene Lacoste earned the nickname “The Alligator” from an American journalist following a Davis Cup match in Boston.
The journalist reportedly gave Lacoste the nickname after he made a bet with one of his teammates involving a crocodile suitcase he had seen at a store prior to the start of the Davis Cup.
The nickname stuck–er, sort of. Rather than running with “The Alligator,” people started calling Lacoste “The Crocodile,” both because of the bet and because of his playing style on the tennis court.
2. Comes to Life as a Logo in 1927
Lacoste seemed to really like the nickname “The Crocodile,” and he embraced it right from the beginning.
In fact, he liked it so much that, in 1927, he decided to use it as the inspiration for a logo that he put on the blazers he wore to and from tennis matches. He called on his close friend Robert George to create a crocodile-inspired logo for him.
The logo was slightly larger than the one that Lacoste would eventually use for his clothing line. But it helped pave the way for the popularity of the Lacoste crocodile.
3. Appears on the First Lacoste Polo Shirt in 1933
Towards the end of the 1920s, Lacoste played a key role in creating what would eventually become the polo shirt.
Up until that point, tennis players had traditionally worn long-sleeved shirts during matches. Lacoste helped come up with the design for the polo shirt and cosigned the idea of tennis players wearing them.
He also put his stamp on the fashion world in 1933 when he introduced the very first Lacoste polo shirt to the world through an ad campaign. It featured the Lacoste crocodile on it and kickstarted his brand.
4. Pops Up in International Ad Campaigns in the 1970s
The Lacoste fashion label grew by leaps and bounds throughout the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. The brand’s basic polo shirt helped put Lacoste on the map, but the company expanded beyond just basic polo shirts before long.
In 1951, Lacoste started selling monochromatic polo shirts. By 1958, they had a kids’ clothing line in stores. And in between, Lacoste also released a more elegant version of their polo shirt featuring shorter sleeves and a more refined look in the U.S.
The company also launched several international ad campaigns at that time. But it wasn’t until the 1970s when Lacoste really started to push hard with their international ad campaigns.
By the end of the 1970s, the company was enjoying a strong growth in sales, due in large part to the familiarity of the now-legendary Lacoste logo.
5. Debuts on More Than Just Lacoste Clothes in the 1980s
When you think about the iconic Lacoste logo, you probably think about the crocodile positioned prominently on a polo shirt. But in the 1980s, Lacoste started putting the logo on more than just clothing.
The company also started selling sunglasses, cologne, and even tennis shoes. The crocodile appeared on those items as well and lent credibility to everything it touched.
6. Represents the “New Crocodile” Novak Djokovic in 2017
In more recent years, Lacoste has refused to simply rest on its laurels and allow the Lacoste crocodile to do the heavy lifting as far as branding is concerned. They’ve continued to push the boundaries and found new ways to put their logo in front of people.
One way they did it in 2017 was by blessing Novak Djokovic with the nickname “New Crocodile.” They brought the star tennis player on board to put Lacoste in the spotlight.
It helped introduce Lacoste to a whole new generation of tennis fans. You can learn more about some of the Lacoste pieces that these fans are so excited about today.
7. Takes a Backseat to Endangered Species in 2018
If you’ve purchased a Lacoste polo shirt or another kind of Lacoste clothing in 2018, you may have noticed that the Lacoste crocodile has gone missing in some cases.
Does that mean Lacoste is parting ways with its long-time logo? Not a chance!
Rather, Lacoste is attempting to do its part to save the planet by launching a special campaign called Save Our Species. It calls for the Lacoste crocodile to be replaced by a logo featuring one of 10 endangered animal species to promote awareness around the potential extinction of these animals.
It won’t be easy to get your hands on items from the Save Our Species collection. But it’s worth a shot for those who love both Lacoste and the idea of using different logos for a good cause.
Why the Lacoste Crocodile Continues to Win Consumers Over
When Rene Lacoste first started using a crocodile logo back in the 1920s, he probably didn’t have any idea how big it would become one day. He single-handedly helped change the fashion world forever when he created the Lacoste crocodile logo and put it on polo shirts.
He also created a loyal following of Lacoste fans in the process. Even today, people continue to turn to Lacoste over and over again when it’s time for them to buy polo shirts and other articles of clothing. They know they can trust Lacoste to provide them with high-quality fashion pieces.
Check out our blog to learn about the best ways to organize all the Lacoste clothing you have in your closet.