Rene Lacoste entered the legend of tennis when he and his team-mates “The Musketeers”, stole the Davis Cup away from the Americans for the first time, in 1927. Not forgetting his 3 French Open victories, his two victories in Great Britain, and his two U.S. Open titles at Forest Hills.
Rene Lacoste was born in France on July 2nd 1904 and died on October 12th 1996. The true story of the “Alligator” begins in 1927. René Lacoste liked to recount how his nickname became an emblem recognized throughout the world.
I was nicknamed “the Alligator” by the American press, after I made a bet with Captain of the French Davis Cup Team concerning a suitcase made from alligator skin. He promised to buy it for me if I won a very important match for out team. The public must have been fond of this nickname which conveyed the tenacity I displayed on the tennis courts, never letting go of my prey!”
So my friend Robert George drew an alligator which I then had embroidered on the blazer I wore on the courts.”
An attentive spectator at René Lacoste’s Davis Cup matches was the winner of the British Women’s golf title, Mademoiselle Simone Thion de la Chaume, who soon became his wife and constant support.
In 1933 Rene Lacoste and André Gillier, the owner and President of the largest French knitwear manufacturing firm of that time, set up a company to manufacture the logo-embroidered shirt. The champion had designed this for his own use on the tennis court, as well as a number of other shirts for tennis, golf, and sailing – as can be seen in the first catalogue, produced in 1933.
To the best of our knowledge, this was the first time that a brand name appeared on the outside of an article of clothing – and idea which has since become extremely successful.
This shirt revolutionized men’s sportswear and replaced the woven fabric, long – sleeved, starched classic shirts. The first Lacoste shirt was white, slightly shorter than its counterparts, had a ribbed collar, short sleeves with ribbed brands and was made of a light knitted fabric called “Jersey petit pique”. It continues to offer the same quality, comfort and solidity on which it built its name and which constitute its uniqueness.