René The Champion
René Lacoste was a dominant force in men’s tennis in the 1920s. Between
1925 and 1929 he won 7 Gram Slam titles including French Open (1925, 1927
& 1929), US Open (1926 & 1927) and Wimbledon (1925 & 1928). He
was also one of the famed ‘Musketeers’ who rose to fame when they stole
the Davis Cup from the Americans for the first time in 1927 and then again in
It was during one Davis Cup tournament that René made a bet with the captain of the French team that he would buy him an alligator-skin suitcase if he triumphed in an important match. This, coupled with his predatory, attacking style saw him dubbed ‘The Crocodile’ by the American press and public. The rest is history.
René The Inventor
As he was becoming a legend on the court, René Lacoste was also revolutionizing the game off the court. It began when he designed a crocodile logo for himself, which would appear on all his on-court clothing. It’s believed that this was the first time a brand name had appeared on the outside of an article of clothing, an idea that is now the norm. Not content with this, Lacoste also began designing the clothes themselves and in 1933 created a range of sports clothing, including a branded tennis shirt which broke with tradition – it was not only branded, but short-sleeved and made of a light knitted fabric called ‘Jersey petit pique’. Its code-name was ‘the 1212’ and it was so comfortable and hard-wearing that it soon replaced the long-sleeved, starched shirts which players had been wearing on the courts. The clothing ranges expanded and became more successful across the globe, but like a tenacious croc, Lacoste didn’t stop there and went on to innovate further, a milestone being his invention of the first steel racket in 1963. But that’s a story for another time…
View the Vintage Tennis range, inspired by the legend of René Lacoste.