Lacoste, founded in 1933, is a fashion company that sells clothing and other types of wear, including shoes and perfume.
The company has a green crocodile logo for easy recognition. But is Lacoste black-owned?
The simple answer to this question is, no, Lacoste is not black-owned. The company’s current owner is Maus Freres, a Swiss holding company headquartered in Geneva.
Here’s what you should know about Lacoste’s ownership.
The Foundation of Lacoste
Lacoste is the brainchild of René Lacoste, a professional French tennis player in the 1920s, and his co-partner André Gillier. Gillier was the president and owner of a leading French knitwear manufacturing firm.
There have been some controversies about René’s origin and from these uncertainties, questions about the ownership of Lacoste company arose.
As mentioned above, Lacoste isn’t black-owned, although there have been rumors about Rene being black.
Some claim he had black family on his mother’s side, who was rumored to be a Jamaican woman. But to date, no one has ever validated this rumor, and Rene remains to be a French man.
Before the birth of Lacoste, the company’s original name was La Chemise Lacoste. The first product was a tennis shirt designed by Rene.
This shirt came into existence because Rene never felt comfortable in the shirts he used to wear when playing tennis. He sought to make a more comfortable shirt.
The company made its first product from a petit pique fabric, meaning a small weaving style using cotton yarn. They would later design shirts used for sailing and golfing, besides tennis.
As for the crocodile logo, it came from Rene’s tennis nickname. His playmates nicknamed him ‘Le Crocodile’ due to his playing style against opponents.
Lacoste was incorporated in 1933 and remained a family-owned company until 2012.
From early on, Rene was the head of the management, but in 1963, his son, Bernard Lacoste, took over. The takeover was an excellent move and resulted in the tremendous growth of Lacoste.
Initially, under Rene’s management, the company was selling about 300,000 products annually, but the sales increased significantly under his son’s management.
Other products also got introduced to Lacoste’s line during that time. These included watches, perfumes, sunglasses, shoes, and products made out of leather.
The company’s breakthrough came in 1971 when it partnered with Roland-Garros, a major tennis tournament held every year in Paris.
This partnership has helped market the Lacoste brand, gaining popularity and increasing sales.
Bernard transferred his presidency rights to his younger brother, Michel, in 2005 after falling ill. However, Michel only managed the Lacoste Company for 3years, passing it over to his daughter, Beryl Hamilton.
This family’s reign and ownership ended when Maus Freres, a Swiss group, acquired Lacoste in November 2012.
Lacoste remains a subsidiary of the Maus Freres Swiss Company, with over two billion euros annual sales.
As mentioned above, Lacoste was established in 1933 in Troyes, France. The company’s first creation was a polo tennis shirt, which Lacoste himself wore to the tennis courts for the first time.
This tennis shirt had a unique label, L.12.12, each code with a specific meaning. L was for Lacoste, 1 for uniqueness, 2 for its short-sleeved code, and 12 for the 12th prototype they selected.
These tennis shirts were purely white, with a crocodile logo on the chest. That was the only way to identify Lacoste’s original polo tennis shirt.
It took the company nearly thirty years to start manufacturing tennis shirts of other colors, which they finally did in 1951. The motive behind these different colors was to increase sales, targeting a much higher market.
They also introduced other products, including golf and sailing shirts along the way. Even these other products had the crocodile logo as a symbol of the Lacoste Company.
Bernard Lacoste’s involvement saw the company’s sales increase significantly in the 60s. The peak was in the 70s when Lacoste as a brand became the talk of the country.
More and more people bought their products for leisure and sports. By 2005, Lacoste was distributing its products to over 100 countries.
It soon became a renowned clothing brand globally, especially for its tennis shirts.
Under Bernard’s leadership, Lacoste managed to secure contracts with some of the famous faces in the tennis world.
Teaming up with players like Andrew Roddick, Stanislas Wawrinka, and Rich Gasquet added to the company’s fame and recognition worldwide.
And even in the golfing world, José Maria Olazábal also increased their popularity by wearing the Lacoste golfing shirts while playing in tournaments.
Unfortunately, Bernard got seriously sick in early 2005 and died the following year, leaving his brother, Michel Lacoste, in charge.
In 2006, the year Bernard died, Lacoste Foundation was born. Until today, this foundation supports many community projects through tennis and golf.
The proceeds from the sports go to this foundation and later to projects that improve the lives of the most vulnerable youths.
The Crocodile Logo Battle
If you can remember, the crocodile’s logo came about from Rene Lacoste’s tennis nickname, the crocodile. But there was another company also using a crocodile logo.
For this reason, Lacoste got itself in a legal battle with this other company, Crocodile Garments, in the early 21st century. You could clearly see the differences between these two logos, but still, a battle arose.
While Lacoste’s crocodile logo faced the right, the other company’s crocodile logo faced the left. Another notable difference was that Lacoste’s logo was green while Crocodile Garments’ logo was brown.
However, after some time, the two companies had a mutual agreement. Crocodile Garments agreed to alter their logo slightly, making their crocodile’s eyes bigger and tail face upwards.
The Birth of Lacoste’s Website
2007 saw a shift from one era to another. From the above history, it’s clear that Lacoste was spreading its wings to other countries.
They needed a common platform to easily connect to their fans and customers, a site where they could all meet for the same purpose.
With this in mind, the Lacoste website came into existence. Thanks to this website, more global customers could now access Lacoste products without going physically to the shops.
Soon, even movies and music videos started featuring Lacoste products. In 2009, Hayden Christensen, a famous movie star, became the face of the Lacoste challenge fragrance for men.
2012 marked the end of the Lacoste family ownership after selling to Maus Freres Swiss Company. This acquisition was valued at about $1.3 billion.
Henri Maus and Leon Nordmann came together in 1902 to form Maus Freres. Today, this holding company controls several brands, including:
- Manora Restaurants
- Manor – department store
- Manor Foods
- The Kooples
Lacoste is still a part of this company but has expanded and grown over the years. Currently, its annual sales go way above two billion euros.
The company has spread its roots to over one hundred and twenty countries, with more than 10,000 workers.
Is Lacoste Black Owned? Final Thoughts
Is Lacoste black-owned? The answer is no. Lacoste is a subsidiary of Maus Freres, a Swiss company that isn’t run by black people.
It’s not evident whether the initial founder Rene Lacoste had black roots. Rene was French, and at no point has Lacoste been owned or controlled by black people.