its 90th birthday
May 3rd 2023, from Paris to the world —
Lacoste kicks off its 90th anniversary.
90 years of the iconic Crocodile. 90 years defining French fashion sport. 90 years of movement born on the court, growing from sport to street.
But this is not just another retrospective.
The Crocodile marks its birthday with unique energy — living the present and celebrating the people moving the brand’s heartbeat across the globe today.
Founded by the original Crocodile, René Lacoste,
the brand’s values of French elegance, movement,
savoir-faire, creativity and reinvention have
transitioned seamlessly throughout every decade.
First loved by sports players, inspired by the free elegance of René’s own pro sporting family and charismatic friends, the Crocodile spread through France, across tennis and golfing terrains, beyond court and field, line and border. And with every new corner of the world Lacoste touched, a unique cultural cross-pollination occurred, deeply influencing and being influenced by street culture, popping on to fashion’s runways, collaborating with musicians, artists and creators, tracing its way through the vintage retro scene, and being inscribed into pop culture.
The Crocodile is now a powerful identifying emblem for many — representing a living, connected heritage that never stops moving.
This year, Lacoste travels the world to celebrate eight of these compelling contemporary subcultures. Shaping the brand through their passion, individuality, and style, together they are the heart of Lacoste’s 90th anniversary celebrations. Here are the Lacoste communities the world will meet this year :
Making remarkably colorful waves at São Paulo’s famed Bailes Funk (funk street parties) are the self-named, proudly Lacoste-addicted “Lacosteiros”. Living, dancing and dreaming Lacoste, they are honored to claim their role as the most active, passionate of the brand-based communities that inspire vibrant Brazilian fashion street culture. They are as much about creative individuality as supportive community; swapping pieces, twisting styles and sharing their love for the brand across generations with generosity. Their signature pieces include the Lacoste golf umbrella which comes to life at the heart of funk dance, multiple pairs of colored sunglasses stacked on up the forehead, and maximalist jewelry.
Deeply committed to learning the stories behind each of their fashion pieces, the Tokyo vintage collectors are resolutely patient; they’ll spend years hunting for the perfect piece. And if they cherish Lacoste, it is because the brand honors history, French savoir faire and cultural impact. From the streets of Shimokitazawa to Harajuku, vintage-collecting Tokyoites find their inspiration in clashing influences from old French cinema to American varsity to Japanese anime.
They’re the originators of Lacoste’s strong link with street culture, born in the Parisian suburbs in the early 90s French rap scene. Reinterpreting and reappropriating “bourgeois” tennis and sportswear codes, their style inspires communities across the globe, especially within the USA, cross-pollinating rap lover style. You’ll see them sporting iconic Lacoste tracksuits and girolles.
New Yorkers. Their inimitable diversity, their fearless energy, their world-renowned style. In a city so large, the amateur tennis community is deeply connected by sportsmanship, competition, tennis club culture and fashion. From white polos and club-approved knitwear to monochromatic tracksuits and tennis bags, they serve the contemporary with the classic, the sporty with the street and the trendy with the timeless.
Passionate about vintage clothing passed down from grandparents or hunted down in local thrift stores, they covet iconic classics stamped with the Crocodile, cult pieces that pay homage to unique periods in the brand’s history, rare, limited editions, and well-worn favorites with deeply sentimental value. This isn’t a subculture of disparate individuals. They are deeply connected with each other, frequenting each other’s vintage stores, swapping their favorite designs, and acknowledging a deep respect for creative style. You’ll see them up and down the sun-blessed Marseille coast, wearing preppy knitwear, vibrantly colorful tracksuits and accessories including iconic Lacoste claquettes (sandals). Their style continues to impact fashion and culture across France and beyond.
They say it themselves — “people are just friendlier in Miami”. Locals and implants from across the USA, these amateur golfers live for the sun-drenched outdoors. You’ll find them out on the golf-course during every season, chasing the ever-elusive hole-in-one and reveling in the social lifestyle that comes with the challenging game. A reflection of their sunny environment and personalities, they love bright colors & pastels, from their polos to sunglasses, fanny packs and visors.
Whether French or international, famous, or not so famous, they are the Roland Garros community, fans of a classic tennis tradition, an unmissable event. With their hats and polos, they stand for elegance and sporting spirit, contrasting their timeless spectator fashion against the quintessential red clay. For them, Lacoste is at once a uniform, a symbol of membership to a passionate community. Of all the diverse places across the globe Lacoste finds its home, Roland Garros is the closest to its original tennis roots, and where you’ll likely see the most Crocodile logos in one space at one time. René himself won several grand slams, and in 1971, Lacoste became the official sponsor of Roland Garros.
In Seoul, tennis is not just a sport. It’s a lifestyle. And it’s fashion. Alone or with friends, with an aggressive or defensive technique, to improve or to surpass oneself, the style speaks volumes and the passion is consuming. For players loyal to Lacoste, it’s because the brand’s elegance matches its function, to elevate their experience of the game. You’ll find them wearing the latest technical fabrics in contemporary colorways, light-as-air pleated skirts, sleeveless polos for maximum range, and mis-matched socks for luck.
With such rich cultural inspiration, Lacoste was poised to create a meaningful, emotion-charged 90th anniversary campaign. But how would the brand spotlight the uniqueness of its communities, as stylistically different as they are geographically distanced? By taking its role as a cross-cultural connector to heart, creating a campaign of “Impossible Encounters”, made possible through the magic of style and cinema.
The campaign bridges pairs of its eight subcultures, each shot in their own meaningful locations and contexts, to highlight both their differences and their unexpected similarities — finding unique symmetry in their favorite meet-up spots, surprising parallels in clothing color palettes and striking contrast between their minimalist/maximalist spirits. Through the power of Lacoste, each duo enters an unexpectedly witty fashion dialogue, when they appear to encounter and make eye contact with each other in a moment of mutual style appreciation. Their two worlds, brought together by split screen, complete each other. A set of unexpected kindred spirits are bonded through Lacoste.
This campaign continues to build upon the fresh, humorous, pop-cultural editorial language, established through Lacoste’s iconic ad series “Unexpected Encounters”, launched in 2022.
The campaign’s authenticity and nuance are in large part thanks to collaboration with local cultural “curators” who ensure the representation of each culture. Curators include Lacosteiros expert, Fernanda Souza (São Paulo), and Street Style Specialist, Motofumi “Poggy” Kogi (Tokyo).
Irish Photographer, Ronan Gallagher’s documentary approach, strong color and fashion sensibility combine to inject colorful pop energy into each still shot. Having shot Lacoste’s iconic 2022 brand campaign, he continues to develop a unique visual language for the ever-evolving brand.
London-based Director and youth culture lover, Yoni Lappin, infuses wit into the short ad films, bringing together scenarized encounters with spontaneous authenticity.
French Digital Director Chris Saulnier’s social-first talents bring unstoppable dynamism to a profoundly anthropological project, bringing together community interviews, behind the scenes moments and playful style explorations.
Throughout the year, Lacoste will open an innovative pop up in each subculture’s local area. Pop up themes include vintage stores, flea markets, tennis playgrounds, live concerts and exhibitions. The objective is to create value for each community, giving them the chance to enter a more intimate brand conversation and collaborate in an open format, connecting through their own unique cultural touchpoints and passions. Each pop up will also offer limited edition products with relevance to each community, including polo re-edition which will get Lacosteiros hearts racing in Sao Paulo, a tennis-inspired capsule for fans of Roland Garros, and a vintage, Made in Japan selection from curator Poggy, in Tokyo.
The pop ups will be held in each city on the following dates :
“Inventor: if I had to put a profession on my business card, that is what I would write." René Lacoste, 1964
He is Lacoste’s founder, a celebrated pro tennis player and prolific inventor: René Lacoste. Born in Paris in 1904, he was immersed in sport from an early age,inspired by his father, a rowing enthusiast.
But René’s passion was tennis. He excelled, winning his first tournament aged 17, in 1921. He was then spotted by tennis champion Suzanne Lenglen, who became a close friend and mentor on the court, guiding him to move with spontaneity and unique strength.
In 1933, he met the industrialist André Gillier. Together they conceived of the LACOSTE L.12.12 polo shirt, a revolutionary piece of design. L for LACOSTE, 1 for the unique fabric: cotton petit piqué, 2 for the short-sleeved version, 12 for the number of the version finally selected by René Lacoste. Made of a new breathable fabric, petit piqué jersey, featuring the crocodile logo, the shirt was flexible and lightweight. Against the advice of his friends, he decided to embroider his famous signature Crocodile on it: the first polo was created.
René’s inventive spirit also gave birth to some of the sporting world’s most important non-fashion innovations. In 1928, he invented the tennis ball machine to improve his technique. The machine went on to train generations of players.
In 1963, he revolutionized the tennis world with the invention of the steel tennis racket. The invention provided superior aerodynamics and paved the way for the modern tennis racket. In 1971 he invented the damper, a new vibration absorption device located in the racket handle.
It’s the year 1923, in Boston, USA. Before a tennis match, René Lacoste notices an elegant crocodile skin suitcase in a shop window. His coach promises to give it to him if he wins. He loses. But hearing of the bet and René’s unique tenacity on the court, a journalist nicknames him the "Crocodile”.
In 1926, inspired by his own nickname, Lacoste asks his friend Robert George to design a crocodile. The now famous logo makes its first appearance embroidered on René’s blazer. The legend grows.
René’s tight-knit group of family and charismatic friends were Lacoste’s first community. His wife, Simone Thion de La Chaume, an international golf champion, shared René’s passionate sporting spirit and passed it on to their daughter Catherine, who became one of the greatest golf champions of the 1960s and 1970s.
In Chantaco, the golf club created by Simone’s father, the Lacoste family supported young players, encouraging them to follow their dream of becoming champions, no matter their origins and social categories. Lacoste keeps the value of youth commitment alive to this day, through programs including Durable Elegance and Foundation Lacoste, actively supporting equal opportunity through the power of sport.
Between rigor and coolness, freedom and elegance, precision and expression, Lacoste stands for fashion sport and French savoir-faire. Proudly made in France, where Lacoste's unique weaving and knitting technique was born, the brand continues to refine and innovate its sourcing and fabrication processes, looking towards a more sustainable future, for people and the planet.
Lacoste has reshaped the contemporary fashion landscape, through the vision of iconic artistic directors including Christophe Lemaire, Felipe Oliveira Baptisa and Louise Trotter. Today, Creative Design Director, Pelagia Kolotouros, leads the collective studio taking Lacoste into its next chapter.