What is a better time for a new shipment of polo shirts than summer? The classic pique polo can be worn tucked in and dressed up or as casual as you want with your favorite pair of board shorts. The D&H polo follows in the footsteps of the original open-weave piqué cotton, soft-collared, three-button placket-front shirt innovated by French tennis player René Lacoste in the late 1920s. For more of the history of this wardrobe staple, read below.
The winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles at the French, American, and British championships, a member of the Davis Cup-winning French team in 1927 and 1928, and the world’s top seeded player in 1926 and 1927, Lacoste was one of the most famous sportsmen of his era. He was also one of the first to capitalise on his renown by launching a signature line of clothing. At a time when most tennis players competed wearing a standard long-sleeved shirt (and a tie), Lacoste had shocked more conservative observers by wearing a shirt of his own creation — soft and breathable, with short sleeves, it improved his freedom of movement and performance on the court.
In the early ’30s, as he eased into retirement, Lacoste was approached by André Gillier, owner of France’s leading knitwear manufacturer, who proposed that the two partner to sell reproductions of this groundbreaking garment. In 1933, La Chemise Lacoste was founded, adopting as its logo the crocodile — a nickname Lacoste had picked up thanks to winning a bet with another player (the prize being a lavish croc-hide suitcase) and due to his snappy tenacity in competition. Placing the reptilian motif prominently on the shirt’s left breast, Lacoste became one of the first brands, perhaps the first brand, to emblazon a label on the outside of a garment.
While this partnership wasn’t the first to commercialise the knitted polo shirt, with the likes of John Smedley helping to advance the technology, Lacoste’s tennis shirt was immensely popular in Europe and beyond, quickly becoming a potent symbol of sporty, leisure-class élan.