Jean Rene Lacoste – From Tennis To Fashion
As one of the world’s most prestigious fashion designers, Rene Lacoste was actually a man of many talents. Before entering the world of fashion, Lacoste was a very accomplished tennis player but also a skilled inventor and a visionary. Born in 1904 in Paris, France, Rene Lacoste had a passion for technology and engineering at an early age, which is why he was originally supposed to study engineering at a good French school. However, he decided to play professional tennis instead, which might seem like an unusual choice, but given the fact that he won several championships, it was clearly a very inspired decision.
Rene Lacoste was fearsome on the tennis field, but not because of his outstanding physique but because of his ingenious tactics. He got his first taste of success in 1925 when he won the Wimbledon and French Open championships, but he would also end up defeating Bill Tilden in a one-on-one match in 1926. Rene Lacoste enjoyed a fruitful tennis career of 7 years, during which he won 7 major championships, including one at Wimbledon in 1928. Consequently, he became one of the renowned “Four Musketeers of French tennis” alongside Henri Cochet, Jean Borotra and Jacques Brugnon. Unfortunately, he was forced to retire from tennis in 1929 because of some serious health problems, but his extraordinary accomplishments allowed him to earn his place into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1976.
However, even though he was an incredible sportsman, Lacoste always had a passion for engineering, and it was that passion that drove him to invent the very first tennis ball machine, which he dubbed “lance-balle”. He also invented the first metal tennis racket, but his contributions also extended to golf.
When it comes to fashion, Lacoste was always a bit of a rebel concerning his apparel, since he preferred to wear short-sleeved knit shirts as he was competing, as opposed to regular dress shirts. Right after he retired from tennis, he decided to found a small company that would sell the look, and by 1950, his shirts were already available for purchase in the U.S. As far as the crocodile logo is concerned, the choice was easy, since Lacoste was nicknamed “The Crocodile” due to his unique way of playing tennis. During the 1980s, the Lacoste brand enjoyed huge success, and so it managed to bring in $450 million in 1982.
Rene was a true visionary and a brilliant man, but his health deteriorated tragically during the last years of his life. His afflictions included prostate cancer, but he actually died in his sleep from a heart attack in 1996 in France.