PARIS — Lacoste has named Louise Trotter creative director, marking the first time a woman has filled the position in the history of the house.
The former Joseph designer will present her first collection for the label for the fall 2019 season, Lacoste said. The brand’s spring 2019 collection was designed in-house following the departure of Felipe Oliveira Baptista in May after eight years at the creative helm.
“We are very happy to welcome Louise. Her visionary approach on lines and materials, as well as her expertise in creating highly technical pieces, will be real assets to strengthen the positioning of our collections,” said Lacoste chief executive officer Thierry Guibert, who wants to refocus the brand on its sports roots.
“I am delighted to join this French brand with such a unique heritage. For 85 years, the modernity of the Lacoste style has resided in this singular fusion of sport and fashion. I am proud to contribute to the writing of a new chapter in its history,” said Trotter.
Trotter joined Joseph in 2009 from the British high-street label Jigsaw, where she also held the title of creative director. Before Jigsaw, she served as senior vice president, creative director of H Hilfiger. She was previously vice president of product design and development for women’s merchandise at Gap brand.
During her tenure at Joseph, Trotter put a strong focus on luxe separates, buttery leathers and a mix of tailored and fluid clothing. She was credited with launching men’s wear and accessories for the brand.
Best known for its iconic crocodile logo polo shirt, Lacoste this year is celebrates its 85th anniversary. The brand last September returned to Paris from New York to stage its first ready-to-wear show in the city in 13 years.
For the spring collection, it opted for a presentation. The line, designed by an in-house team, played on a “sportcore” mix of Nineties streetwear references with oversize volumes and the brand’s tennis DNA.
Guibert previously told WWD he found the label unfocused when he took over the helm of the company — owned by Swiss retail group Maus Frères SA — in 2015.
“One of the main tasks when I arrived was to give the brand a clear direction,” he said, noting it had turned too much toward fashion and away from sports. “Sport-inspired and French elegance, these are the two pillars we are leaning on.”
Under his watch, Lacoste has revved up its marketing efforts on sports ambassadors, notably tennis star Novak Djokovic, and sponsoring new tennis tournaments as well as creating capsule collections carrying a Made in France label.
Guibert has also been busy overhauling the distribution network around the world, particularly in the U.S., Lacoste’s largest market, where it generates 15 percent of group sales.
Lacoste, whose link to tennis goes back to its founder René Lacoste, a French tennis legend nicknamed “the crocodile,” is looking to revive its tennis racket business. The brand, which sponsors tennis tournaments including Roland Garros, the Miami Open and the ATP Finals, last year acquired Tecnifibre, a French company that specializes in tennis and squash equipment.
Under Oliveira Baptista’s tenure, revenues at Lacoste grew from around 1 billion euros in 2009 to more than 2 billion euros in 2016, the most recent figures released by the house. The designer was building on the momentum set by his predecessor Christophe Lemaire, who was credited with reviving the brand, tripling its sales during his decadelong tenure there.
Known for his avant-garde, experimental creations, Oliveira Baptista, who was a self-described niche designer when he arrived at Lacoste in 2010, put his namesake brand on hold in 2014. During his time at Lacoste, he collaborated with designers and houses including Maison Lesage, Jean-Paul Goude, Yazbukey and Supreme.
The brand has also seen a number of changes in its communications department over the past few months.
Pascal Collet, the brand’s longtime international press and public relations director, parted ways with the house in mid February. Mathieu Baboulène joined as international public relations manager in May 2017 and left recently to join Coach.
Mathias Monge has just joined the house from Nike Inc. in the role of global communications and events director, with the new head of press and public relations yet to be announced.
Among other changes, Lacoste plans to move into new headquarters in Paris’ 16th arrondissement, with details to be confirmed.