The fun little story behind a great logo

The incredible story behind the crocodile

You've never heard the fascinating story behind the iconic Lacoste crocodile? Well, here it is, thanks to the magic of AI-generated images and a never-before-seen text that take us back to the very heart of the year 1923.

The Vocation of René Lacoste

René Lacoste had reached the age for making big decisions. In early 1923, at 19, he decided to give up his studies and focus entirely on tennis. Now he would be on the tournament circuit full-time. Having won the French Covered Court Championships, he dazzled in the doubles at Wimbledon, playing alongside champion Jean Borotra. When he got back home, he found an important telegram waiting.

*The images on this page were AI-generated using MidJourney.

The Last Stage

That telegram was a call-up to play on France's Davis Cup team in the Europe Zone finals against Spain. If they won, the French players would have to travel to the United States and take on the America Zone winners. The stakes were high – but there wasn’t much that could scare René Lacoste. In Deauville, he triumphed in both his singles matches, cheered by ecstatic crowds, and set his team on the road to victory. They were going to America!

To America for the Final Furlong

Crossing the Atlantic took seven days. René Lacoste and his teammates passed the time training on the wooden deck of the ocean liner France*, the namesake of the famous ship inaugurated in the 1960s. The young tennis star also befriended a fellow traveller during the voyage, the owner of a San Francisco department store. His new buddy introduced him to the Chinese tile game mahjong, and – in an unlikely twist – this inspired Lacoste’s very first invention, a travel mahjong table.

Falling in Love With America

New York was a revelation for René Lacoste. He was amazed by all the skyscrapers springing up downtown. Seeing the brand-new Forest Hill stadium in Queens, eastern New York , came as a profound shock. So did watching US tennis star Helen Wills play. Lacoste realized that tennis, his sport, was a much more commanding form of entertainment than he had ever imagined. His ambition to reach to the top suddenly burned a whole lot fiercer.

René Lacoste in New York

A Very Special Suitcase

The big day was drawing closer, so the French players headed north to Boston. With four days to go, they fine-tuned their game on the court and went for strolls to explore the city. On one of those walks, Lacoste stopped in front of a luggage shop window, mesmerized by a crocodile skin suitcase on display. With a smile, he told his team captain: “If I win my match against the Australians, you have to get that for me!” The deal was struck.

*The images on this page were AI-generated using MidJourney.

René Lacoste, The Crocodile

The round against the Australians did not go well. Despite putting up a valiant fight, René Lacoste lost his first match. And the defeats kept on coming. Australia won the round 4-1, but journalists covering the event were full of praise for the young French player's tenacity. They had heard the story about the crocodile skin suitcase and began dubbing Lacoste “the crocodile” in their articles. This nickname would stick with him for the rest of his life. Soon it would even be turned into a logo. Nobody knew it yet, but this was the beginning of another story – one that would be just as remarkable.

Hooked on the Crocodile?

René Lacoste. Behind the scenes of the brand. Find out everything you've never been told.