The polo shirt, the other icon of the courts

 - Elodie Iriart

Did you know that the first ever polo shirt was created by a famous French tennis player?

Elegant, comfortable and practical: over the years the polo shirt has become a wardrobe staple for any occasion. This timeless piece made its debut when René Lacoste had the brilliant idea of combining effort, performance and style by creating a short-sleeved piqué cotton shirt decorated with the famous crocodile emblem.

The Crocodile shirt

It was the end of the 1920s, and René Lacoste decided that the shirts of the time were not suitable for playing tennis and hindered the quality of the game. Furthermore, the “Alligator” complained of being too cold when he played at Wimbledon and too hot in the United States. So, he searched for a solution to this physiological and climatic problem… By drawing inspiration from polo players’ outfits, he made a short-sleeved shirt from piqué cotton and named it the "L.12.12", adding a shortened tab, three buttons and crocodile embroidered on the breast.  

René Lacoste.

Petit piqué is the emblematic fabric of the Lacoste polo shirt and its eponymous brand. Made from soft cotton, woven into a fine mesh, the knitting technique designed by René Lacoste blends comfort, freedom of movement and elegance.

The Mousquetaire wore his revolutionary polo shirt for the first time at the US Open in 1926 and on centre court at Roland Garros in 1928.

At the end of his career, in 1933, Lacoste launched his new shirt onto the market, and it quickly because a must-have item both on and off the courts.

From court to department store

Some people swear only by the Crocodile brand, while others have different allegiances…

After Lacoste, other big names have risen to challenge to create the next must-have polo shirt.

In the late 1940s, Fred Perry, Britain’s three-time Wimbledon champion, turned his hand to textiles and set about creating a clothing brand. The British version of the polo shirt was born! Its contrasting double stripe and laurel crown (the emblematic logo of the English lawn tennis tournament) established the brand’s reputation.   

In the 70s, the trend travelled across the pond, when polo shirts adorned with an embroidered polo player started to invade American dressing rooms.

Fred Perry 1932.©∏ Piz/FFT
Happy birthday, Polo!


The polo shirt has preserved its timeless elegance, 85 years after its debut.

To mark this anniversary, the Crocodile brand is inviting us to step back in time by re-releasing the 15 iconic shirts that forged Lacoste’s reputation from 1930 into the 2000s. Even today, the legendary L.12.12 polo shirt is celebrated as the most iconic piece in the sport-chic wardrobe.