Lacoste is a French company, founded in 1933 by tennis player René Lacoste and André Gillier. It sells clothing, footwear, sportswear, eyewear, leather goods, perfume, towels and watches. The company can be recognized by its green crocodile logo. René Lacoste, the company’s founder, was nicknamed “the Crocodile” by fans because of his tenacity on the tennis court. In November 2012 Lacoste was bought outright by Swiss family-held group Maus Frères.
In the early ’50s, Bernard Lacoste teamed up with David Crystal, who at the time owned Izod, to produce Izod Lacoste clothing. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was extremely popular with teenagers who called the shirts simply Izod. While the union was both profitable and popular, Izod Lacoste’s parent company (Crystal Brands, Inc.) was saddled with debt from other business ventures. When attempts to separate Izod and Lacoste to create revenue did not alleviate the debt, Crystal sold his half of Lacoste back to the French and Izod was sold to Van Heusen.
However, starting in 2000, with the hiring of a new fashion designer Christophe Lemaire, Lacoste began to take over control of its brand name and logo, reining in their branding arrangements. Currently, Lacoste has once again returned to the elite status it held before a brand management crisis circa 1990.
Lacoste was involved in a long-standing dispute over its logo with Hong Kong-based sportswear company Crocodile Garments. At the time, Lacoste used a crocodile logo that faced right (registered in France in 1933) while Crocodile used one that faced left (registered in various Asian countries in the 1940s and 1950s). Lacoste tried to block an application from Crocodile to register its logo in China during the 1990s, the dispute ending in a settlement. As part of the agreement, Crocodile agreed to change its logo, which now sports scalier skin, bigger eyes and a tail that rises vertically.