Heritage — 08.17.2015

The story of the crocodile

How a simple bet in the streets of Boston shaped the history of tennis and fashion

Nicknamed 'The Crocodile' as a result of a bet with his tennis team captain, René Lacoste made this unique animal the iconic logo of his brand. And, the symbol of a new style of sport chic: combining elegance and casual style.

René Lacoste in London, 1925 © Ullstein Bild

A winning bet

As with so many great stories, the story of the crocodile begins with a little anecdote.

Boston, 1923. René Lacoste was strolling through the city's streets with his tennis team's captain, Alan Muhr, before the afternoon's upcoming game. In a store's window display, an elegant crocodile skin suitcase caught his eye. Time for a bet: if René won the match, Alan would buy him the suitcase. As it turned out, René didn't win, but journalist George Carens heard the story and mentioned it in his article in the Boston Evening Transcript: “The young Lacoste has not won his crocodile skin suitcase but he fought like a true crocodile.

After Jean Borotra (The Leaping Basque), Henri Cochet (The Magician) and Jacques Brugnon (Toto), the fourth musketeer had now found his own nickname.

Creating the croc

The crocodile illustration was drawn by Robert George – René Lacoste's friend – who had it embroidered in colour on the pocket of the white blazer he wore before each match.

The crocodile illustration by Robert George © RR

“The Crocodile” - René Lacoste owes his nickname to the power and persistence of his game, along with his consistency and calm.

Portrait of René Lacoste wearing his embroidered crocodile on a white blazer ©RR

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