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1 Jul 2016 by Amie Gee

Lacoste | History of the L.12.12 Polo Shirt

A sartorial staple in many a man's wardrobe, the humble polo shirt has transcended the fashion trends of the past century to be an authoritative figure in both the activewear and casualwear segments of the fashion industry.

Across the decades, the polo shirt has been adopted as the attire of choice by followers of the Preppy and Mod fashion movements of the fifties and sixties, with it still being a prominent figure across the casualwear scene today.

But where did the polo shirt first originate from? The history of this capsule wardrobe staple can be traced back to the eponymous tennis legend René Lacoste, the birth of one of the world's biggest sportswear brands and the legendary L.12.12 polo shirt design.

René Lacoste: The birth of a sporting icon

Born in 1904, Frenchman René Lacoste first picked up a tennis racket at the tender age of 15; In 1921, aged only 17, René had won his first tennis tournament with his first French Open win following shortly after in 1924. By 1929, René Lacoste had won 10 grand slam titles spanning across the French Open, Wimbledon and the US National Championships; cementing himself in history as one of the tennis greats.

Famed for his fierce playing style, strength and performance, René Lacoste was nicknamed "The Alligator" by the journalists of the time. Inspired by his nickname, René Lacoste asked a friend to design a crocodile logo; the brand's now iconic logo design first appeared embroidered on Lacoste's blazer pocket in 1926.

The L.12.12 Polo Shirt

Traditional tennis whites of the time consisted of a white, long-sleeved shirt with matching trousers and blazer; which René Lacoste considered to be too restrictive to wear during a tennis match. Taking inspiration from London's polo players, Lacoste adapted the short-sleeved shirt style to the revolutionary L.12.12 polo shirt we know and love today.

A lightweight and flexible design, the L.12.12 polo shirt was crafted from the unique piqué cotton jersey, which offered breathability and comfort to tennis players left restricted by the old uniforms. Lacoste also became the first brand to display an external logo on garments with its' iconic crocodile embroidery. Breaking away from tennis traditions, Lacoste was able to offer a practical, yet elegant solution.

René Lacoste personally tested a number of prototypes before deciding on the L.12.12 design; The L stood for Lacoste, 1 for its' unique piqué fabric, 2 for its' short sleeved design and 12 for the number of the prototype selected by René. The L.12.12 went into commercial production in 1933 and has since gone on to revolutionise sportswear and become an iconic worldwide staple.

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Win an outfit from Lacoste worth £250!

We have collaborated with Lacoste to bring you an exciting competition where you could win an outfit from our Lacoste collection up to the value of £250!

To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize all you need to do is answer the question below and submit your details before the closing date.

Closing date is Monday 11th July 2016 at 10am GMT. Terms and Conditions apply.

This competition is now closed, please visit our journal homepage for the latest competitions and offers.
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