Fashion and athleticism have gone hand-in-hand long before the likes of Venus and Serena Williams brought their style to the tennis court.
In the 1930s, French tennis champ Rene Lacoste (pictured below) transformed recreational wear by swapping the heavy, starched long-sleeved shirts men typically wore while playing sports for more comfortable short-sleeved tops in airy petit pique fabrics -- and the polo shirt was born.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the menswear (and now women's wear, too) staple, and Lacoste is celebrating with some special collections that invite everyone to join the party. The EDITION collection revisits the brand's heritage with pieces inspired by designs from decades past. For some, sketches by Lacoste were retrieved from the archives. The UNEXPECTED collection combines classic Lacoste designs with luxe fabrics, bold colors and a mix of casual and sophisticated styles, such as a women's polo dress in lambskin leather.
The Lacoste crocodile also is getting a makeover for the occasion. In time for the holidays, a line of polos with "crazy crocodiles" will roll out in stores, including in Pittsburgh. Lacoste partnered with British designer Peter Saville, who came up with the creative looks for the crocodile. They range from a blurred or scribbled logo to a simple outline of the creature.
Fashion Fact: The Lacoste crocodile came to be because the coach of the French tennis team told Lacoste that he would give him an alligator suitcase if he won an important match. The media then started dubbing him "the crocodile," because of his toughness on the tennis court. The name stuck, and his friend Robert George drew a sketch of it, which was emblazoned on the polo shirt -- and there it has remained.
Learn more about Lacoste's history and anniversary collections at www.lacoste.com/#/80/polohistory.
Below, check out more historic photos and anniversary fashions from the brand (courtesy of Lacoste) ...
Rene Lacoste, circa 1926, created the Lacoste polo shirt.
The original crocodile embroidery, designed by Robert George.
The first Lacoste shirt advertisement, from 1933.
Men's 80th anniversary polo shirt.
80th anniversary men's shoe.
Fleece cotton women's polo dress, from the UNEXPECTED anniversary collection.
Polo shirt with 80th anniversary logo, designed by Peter Saville.