by Gerald Flores
Some might call Rene Lacoste the Leonardo Da Vinci of tennis.
Aside from being a legendary player in the sport during the 1920s and making the crocodile emblem his trademark, Lacoste also filed 20 patents between the 1960s and 1980s on everything from rackets to tennis ball machines.
But the Lacoste brand is more than just a croc sewed onto collared shirts. They’ve also been making sneakers since 1985. Rooted in its French heritage, the brand is looking to get back to its roots with its latest sneaker collection, marking its 30th anniversary in footwear.
“There’s some phenomenal archived styles,” said Chirag Patel, Lacoste’s vice president of product and marketing. “There’s an opportunity to go back and reinvent those models using premium materials.”
Take the Straightset, for example. One of the heroes of the upcoming lineup, the silhouette is a totally new style that riffs off of the brand’s original tennis shoe, made with 100 percent vegetable re-tanned leather.
“With the Straightset, we wanted to create an elegant, simple style that talks to the brand language,” Patel said. “At the heart of the brand, there are things we need to make sure we’re pertaining to: delivering authentic product that has some sort of French heritage around it. Those are the kinds of things that we anchor ourselves around.”
Originally dubbed the Eclair, the LS.12 is a Lacoste style that originally debuted in 1987. The latest version of the sneaker is made less for playing on hard-courts, but more for the streets with calfskin leather a suede in the upper.
“There’s a lot of strong tennis references in the collection,” Patel said. “There’s a sense of French elegance and simplicity. We really tried to avoid that over-complication.”
Still, Patel knows there’s still a lot of room for the European brand to grow in the United States. To close the gap, Lacoste is looking to link up with certain boutiques on limited drops like Philadelphia’s Lapstone & Hammer. The store is the first in the U.S. to carry three new styles and colorways from Lacoste’s fall line: the Straightset, Turbo, and Halfcourt.
“We’re in a very competitive market,” Patel said. “If we deliver authentic footwear that’s true to our heritage, ultimately we’re confident it’ll resonate with our consumers all around the world.”