Lacoste - What's in a name Featured

Cathy and Amelia, two ranges of bags

When it's a bag, the name can mean a lot. You may think that a company such as Lacoste has a name that already has a massive brand value, but they are in actual fact moving in the direction of diversification. Eighty years ago, René Lacoste had the idea of placing a logo on a polo shirt, inventing the fabric pattern petit piqué and using it for the polo, and building a business using the licensing system, well ahead of his time. Today, the increasingly difficult market environment calls for new ideas that appeal above all to a younger and more fashion-conscious age group. The problem is that even though Lacoste invented the polo shirt, and so is closely associated with it, just having that one product is something of a risk. Particularly as polo shirts are made by Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch, and many other brands.

The outcome is Lacoste Live, dedicated to young customers, and Lacoste Women. The brand has returned to growth after two difficult years, with particular success in Brazil, China, Korea, Japan, and more in general, in Latin America and Asia. They are targeting the middle class rather than high-net-worth, because of the sheer volume of this market segment.

The Cathy Bag

The Cathy Bag (spring-summer 2012, one colour variant shown above) is an example of this diversification. It is based on Catherine Lacoste's golf bag. Catherine, René's daughter, is a chip off the old block, becoming world champion golfer at the age of 19 in the team listings, winning the US Open in 1967, and going on to achieve much more in her sport. Her golf bag inspired the Cathy tote bag, with many pockets in calfskin, and piping that creates a neat reference to the original.

Above, Catherine Lacoste; below, her golf bag, 1967, which provided inspiration for the Cathy Bag.

The Amelia collection

The Amelia range for fall-winter 2012 comprises a complete leather collection, with practicality ensured by the dual carrying function with additional shoulder strap. The collection includes wallets, coin purses, pouches and satchel bags, all in the seasonal trend colours of violet, orange and sand.

A last note on the famous Lacoste crocodile. Where did this familiar symbol come from? It was actually tennis player René Lacoste's nickname, the "Crocodile'" referring to his tenacity on the court, above all amongst the American public. He didn't dislike the nickname, and so he asked a friend to design a crocoile motif and had it embroidered on his sports blazer. And so, when, in 1933, René began to manufacture his own cotton shirts (based on a design that he had created for his own personal use in the late 1920s), it was a natural step to apply the same logo. It was the first time that a logo had been applied to a garment.

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