This season marks the launch of an exciting new footwear collection from the iconic French sporting label Lacoste. The L.12.12 collection goes back to it’s roots, focusing on the original polo shirt that kick started René Lacoste’s transition from Tennis player to designer. For those who don’t know the back story behind Lacoste, here’s my brief-ish synopsis.
It all started with René Lacoste, the Wimbledon and French Open winner who held 10 grand slam titles before retiring in 1929. His perfectionist approach to the game made him a great player, details which later were put to use in his next venture.
“Focused when he plays, smiling when he leaves the court.” – The International Press
Beyond a player, he was an inventor and as well as an author. Before he retired Lacoste designed the first tennis ball machine to help improve his technique, which has gone on to train countless generations of pro tennis players. His legacy is more than a fashion label. A man of many talents but where did the idea for a clothing line come from? Well it all started with that little green alligator. When a journalist heard about a bet that René had over an alligator suitcase, he took the opportunity to give the champion his own nickname ‘The Alligator’. Inspired by this, Lacoste got a mate to design his own emblem which he went on to stitch onto a blazer, thus creating an iconic logo that went on to become an internationally recognised badge.
René Lacoste switched out long sleeves for short after seeing the polo players in London wearing the same, providing more freedom of movement during a game. After this he got together with renowned fabric specialist André Gillier and they both created the revolutionary piqué polo shirt (and we thank them for that). The L.12.12 was born. The pique material enhanced movement whilst remaining versatile with it’s smart and sophisticated appearance. René Lacoste went on to build an empire of sports influence fashion, broadening his scope to footwear in the late 50’s by creating his first set of Lacoste tennis shoes.
“When I look back I realise that everything I achieved was based on active cooperation and friendly agreements.” – René Lacoste
The brand continues to grow dipping into every pool from childrenswear to fragrance, Lacoste becomes a massive global brand. Tennis remains as it’s roots with many pro players like 2 time grand slam winner Fabrice Santoro wearing the alligator polo. René married a golfer so it’s unsurprising that he dabbled in other sportswear and equipment. In the 80s he designed a driver made with vibration absorbing polyurethane that paved the way for modern golf clubs. Overall Monsieur René Lacoste had a pretty amazing career, leaving behind a long legacy of accomplishments that went beyond his tennis trophies.
So the L.12.12 collection, Well it plays homage to the iconic polo shirt that launched Lacoste and revolutionised sportswear. A clean definitive sporting design through to the more subtle tributes including an extra soft premium leather upper for enhanced movement. The pique lining gives a nod to it’s namesake as well as providing extra comfort with it’s moulded insole. You can’t get much cleaner than this guy, it’s back to basics with this design. Attention to comfort and wearability has clearly been taken, it’s a very wearable and versatile shoe. No complaints here. Kudos to Lacoste, still a success 80 years on. We’re fans.