Rene Lacoste was a champion tennis player, and in 1927 was ranked number one in the world
René Lacoste was a champion tennis player, and in 1927 was ranked number one in the world.
During his tennis career, he won seven Grand Slam championship tournaments but today he is better known as the father of sportswear brand, Lacoste.
René is said to have found the traditional attire associated with tennis - a long-sleeve button-down shirt - restrictive, particularly when making overhead shots. So he commissioned an English tailor to make a short-sleeved version, with just three buttons, and the polo shirt was born. But why did he choose to adorn his new creation with that of a reptile? Because of an ill-fated bet.
René was walking the streets of Boston one morning, ahead of a Davis Cup match between America and France.
He became transfixed by an alligator-skin suitcase in a store window, and promised if he won the upcoming match he would return and buy it for himself. Ahead of the game, he even wagered the price of it with the captain of the French team.
He didn’t win, but the story of the wager - along with his fierce play - earned him the nickname ‘the alligator’ in the American press.
When he returned to his native France, the translation of alligator became crocodile, and René became forever known as the croc. When a friend drew a crocodile for him one day, Lacoste had it embroidered on the blazer he would wear to court.
And in 1933 - after Lacoste had invented and begun selling his iconic polo - emblazoned it with that very same signature crocodile logo.