Philippe Lacoste, grandson of Izod Lacoste founder René Lacoste, spoke to Business Week recently.
What’s the story behind that alligator, logo?
It was the nickname of my grandfather, René Lacoste, who was a tennis champion who won three French Opens, two Wimbledons, and two U.S. Open titles.
In 1927 my grandfather made a bet with the captain of the French Davis Cup team, after they both saw a suitcase made from alligator skin in a Boston storefront. His captain promised to buy it for my grandfather if he won the next day’s match for the French team. René didn’t win the match, but in reporting it one newspaper said something like: “Young Lacoste didn’t win the game or the alligator-skin suitcase, but he certainly fought like an alligator.”
The name stuck with René, as he later continued to win matches and display his tenacity on court. So, René had a friend who embroidered the crocodile on his blazer, which he wore to the tennis courts.
René and his friend founded a company in 1933, marking the first time that a brand name appeared on the outside of an article of clothing.