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Lacoste Through the Years

The storied history of the brand of the crocodile spans eight decades. Here are some highlights.

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1904 Future tennis legend René Lacoste is born in France.

This story first appeared in the February 9, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

1927 Lacoste, whose nickname is the Crocodile, for his tenacity on the court, makes a white polo shirt for his personal use on the tennis court, bearing an embroidered crocodile on the chest.

1933 Creation of the Lacoste company. Industrial production of the first Lacoste shirts, in particular the white “petit piqué” cotton polo shirt, code-named the “L.12.12.”

1940-1946 Production is interrupted during World War II, but in 1946, starts again in the French market.

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1951 The petit piqué cotton polo shirt begins to appear in color; exports to Italy start.

1952 Apparel exports to the U.S. start. A year later, David Crystal, owner of what eventually became Crystal Brands and the Izod label, buys 50 percent of the distribution rights to Lacoste for the U.S. Izod and Lacoste would be associated for many years.

1959-1960 Children’s wear launches; shorts and striped polo shirts are introduced.

1961 Apparel manufacturing and distribution license is signed for Spain.

1963 René Lacoste invents the steel racket, paving the way for today’s models, and the first Lacoste tennis shoe.

• Bernard Lacoste, René’s eldest son, takes over as chairman.

1964 Exports start to Japan.

1966 Lacoste signs an apparel manufacturing deal in the U.S.

1968 Launch of Lacoste Eau de Toilette, produced under license by Jean Patou.

1971 Lacoste sponsors Roland Garros.

• Japanese production and distribution license is signed.

1978 The company licenses Cahours de Virgile for eyewear and agrees to a manufacturing and distribution deal in Brazil.

1981 Lacoste collaborates with L’Amy on a line of sunglasses and optical frames. Edgar Hamon is licensed for belts and Sogedi for travel and sport bags.

1982 Delorme is licensed for towels, sheets and bathrobes.

• The world’s first Lacoste boutique opens on Avenue Victor Hugo in Paris.

1983 Patrick Co. wins the license for sport shoes.

• Licensed manufacturing and distribution starts in Australia.

1985 Launch of Lacoste tennis shoes, followed by deck shoes in 1986 and walking shoes in 1988.

1986 Licensed apparel manufacturing and distribution starts in South Korea and Argentina.

1987 Seibu Saison takes over the license for Japan.

1988 Licensed manufacturing and distribution starts in Thailand.

1990 Launch of Lacoste’s Equijet racket.

• Turkish and Mexican licenses are signed.

1991 Pentland Group is licensed for Lacoste Leisure shoes.

1992 A license is signed to make and distribute apparel in India.

1993 A worldwide manufacturing agreement is signed with Devanlay S.A., industrial partner and associate of Lacoste, granting Devanlay exclusive worldwide manufacturing rights through June 2012.

• Marking its 60th anniversary, Lacoste organizes a worldwide campaign in support of the fight against multiple sclerosis, raising more than $1 million.

1994 Lacoste licenses the Swiss company Roventa-Henex to produce watches and Vimont SA for distribution.

• Licensed apparel distribution starts in China, and a boutique opens in Shanghai.

1995 The first American Lacoste boutiques open in Palm Beach and Bal Harbour, Fla.

• Licensed distribution starts in Russia.

• Phillips-Van Heusen acquires Izod from Crystal Brands, divorcing Lacoste from Izod.

1996 René Lacoste dies.

• First Moscow shop opens.

• Lacoste’s Web site launches.

• Store opens on Madison Avenue.

1998 Devanlay is taken over by the Maus family (90 percent) and Lacoste (10 percent). The Maus family, through Devanlay, thus becomes a 35 percent shareholder of Lacoste, with the remaining 65 percent belonging to the Lacoste family.

1999 License is signed for Lacoste home textiles with the Descamps SA unit of the Zucchi-Bassetti group.

2000 Christophe Lemaire succeeds Gilles Rosier and is responsible for the artistic direction of Devanlay’s Lacoste activities. His first apparel collection will be for spring 2002.

• Worldwide license for bags, travel items and small leather goods is signed with Samsonite.

2001 Procter & Gamble Prestige Beauté is licensed for Lacoste fragrances and beauty.

2002 The first new concept boutique opens in Düsseldorf, followed by shops in Omotesando in Tokyo, Lyon, Orlando, Berlin, London, Istanbul and the next year, Paris and New York.

• P&G Prestige Beauté launches Lacoste Pour Homme worldwide with a major ad campaign by Herb Ritts.

2003 Lacoste Pour Femme scent launches.

• Lacoste stages its first fashion show in New York.

2004 Touch of Pink scent launches and is ranked among the top fragrances sold in Europe’s main countries.

• The Lacoste Piqué Stretch polo boosts the brand, particularly in the U.S., which, at yearend, is Lacoste’s top market.

2005 Tennis star Andy Roddick, 22, signs a five-year deal to becomes a Lacoste ambassador.

• Michel Lacoste becomes chairman and ceo, succeeding his brother Bernard, who steps down for health reasons and is named honorary chairman.

• P&G Prestige Beauté launches Lacoste Essential worldwide.

2006 Bernard Lacoste dies.

• Mexican golfer Lorena Ochoa signs with Lacoste.

• Movado Group wins a long-term global license for watches.

• The René Lacoste Foundation is created under the aegis of the Fondation de France, helping young people to find their way in life through sport.

• Vincenzo Zucchi SpA is licensed for home textiles.

2007 Elegance men’s scent bows.

2008 Christophe Chenut is named ceo, with Michel Lacoste remaining president.

n Lacoste becomes official sponsor and outfitter of umpires and “ball kids” of the Australian Open.

2009 Lacoste begins its support of the Save Your Logo campaign to preserve biodiversity on the planet and safeguard crocodiles.

n Hayden Christensen is the face for Challenge men’s scent.

n José Luis Duran is named head of Devanlay.

2010 The men’s fragrance Lacoste Essential Sport launches.

n Lacoste’s e-shop in France is created by Lacoste, Devanlay and Pentland. By August, the e-commerce site becomes available in the U.K. and Germany.

n Lacoste signs a four-year global license with GL Bijoux Group to develop fashion jewelry.

n Felipe Oliveira Baptista becomes Lacoste creative director.

2011 Marchon eyewear is licensed for optical and sunglasses.

n Alexa Chung becomes the new face for Lacoste’s latest female fragrance, Joy of Pink.

n Unconventional Chic ad campaign begins.

n Lacoste L!VE launches.

n Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 collection of men’s fragrances launches.

n Lacoste ambassador Yani Tseng, 22, tops the Women’s World Golf Rankings, the youngest player to win four major titles.

n Lacoste becomes the official partner of the Costume Designers Guild Awards.

n A 4,300-square-foot flagship opens on Champs-Élysées.

n A flagship opens in Hamburg.

n Lacoste LAB, which revives the brand’s tradition of innovation and builds a bridge between its heritage and its future, is introduced.

n In New York, a flagship opens on Fifth Avenue, as well as a boutique in SoHo.

n American designer Jonathan Adler teams with Lacoste on a limited collection of polo shirts.

n At the end of 2011, besides its institutional Web site, the 36 countries in which the brand is present all have Web sites. The institutional site is translated into 11 languages. In 2011, it has more than 1.5 million visitors monthly, which represents 16 million unique visitors a year.

n Lacoste LAB products — a bicycle, football and rugby balls, a boomerang, a moto helmet, a surfboard and two skis — sell exclusively at Colette in Paris.

2012 Swiss retail group Maus Frères SA acquires 100 percent of Lacoste SA, valuing the maker at 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion).

n American tennis player John Isner becomes brand ambassador for four years.

n Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Rouge scent is added to the men’s fragrance collection.

2013 José Luis Duran is named ceo of Lacoste SA, succeeding Christophe Chenut.

n The brand marks its 80th anniversary.

Sources: Lacoste and WWD Archives

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