Lacoste Celebrates 90 Years in an Ever-Changing World

The crocodile powers on

Classic prep brand Lacoste fêtes turning 90 by building on a previous campaign, "Unexpected Encounters." That sense of pose, then juxtapose, was already present there. This is magnified in "Impossible Encounters," celebrating how the crocodile (symbol of founder and tennis champ René Lacoste) has transitioned through decades without losing its sense of savoir-faire, creativity and elegance.

Elegance is a key word here. Maybe the word conjures images of long cigarette holders, or a silhouette that cuts through a background like a slash. But you don't capture elegance by dogmatically applying your fingers to the right places on a wine glass. In this work, Lacoste and BETC Paris manifest its most elusive ingredient: The insouciance that separates the merely fashionable from style. 

Your style is a dialogue, a living being. It's a personal, cultural, generational emission, filtered through your unique temporal self.

This campaign is set up along the lines of call and response. Stories with different contexts appear, starting in one place and ending in another. Cultures and classes clash, contrast and collaborate to form a richer picture—the kind that appears when we feel good, generous enough to break through the space between us.

These are field notes of creative human interactions with a brand whose clothes were made with certain intentions—sporty, comfortably moneyed, whatever. When we throw them on, we affirm, negotiate, argue and play with those ideas.

As a rap fan from the Paris Banlieu told the brand, "An outfit someone would typically wear for golf, we wear on the streets in the suburbs. We claim those codes of luxury, and we know we wear them well."

Or take this quote from a Marseillaise vintage lover: "Generally, I tend to prefer pieces that look a bit grandpa."

We're into it. It's fresh and joyful. From Vitry-sur-Seine to New York, Tokyo to São Paolo, the campaign feels like what writer Donna Haraway once called staying with the trouble: "Learning to be truly present, not as a vanishing pivot between awful or edenic pasts and apocalyptic or salvific futures, but as mortal critters entwined in myriad unfinished configurations of places, times, matters, meanings."

In doing this—mixing and melding, mashing up—we deepen our own messages and add more color to the brand's historic tableau.

"Impossible Encounters" bridges eight subcultures to "highlight both their differences and their unexpected similarities—finding unique symmetry in their favorite meet-up spots, surprising parallels in clothing color palettes and striking contrast between their minimalist/maximalist spirits," Lacoste says. It’s a stylized conversation, rendered coherent by a mutual nod or a wave, eye contact across physical divides. 

The worlds complete each other, reinforcing the notion—subversive today—that kindred spirits, making kinfolk, are found not in rote sameness but in prolifically diverse interpretations of a brand, which in the end is merely an idea. To quote Haraway again: "The task is to make kin in lines of inventive connection as a practice of learning to live and die well with each other in a thick present."

It's life-affirming. It's unexpectedly political. Happy 90, Lacoste.

Youth culture aficionado Yoni Lappin served as director. Curators, tasked with ensuring appropriate representations of each culture, include Lacosteiros expert Fernanda Souza (São Paulo) and street style specialist Motofumi "Poggy" Kogi (Tokyo).

The stills, which you'll find below, were shot by Irish photog Ronan Gallagher.

Click images to enlarge:


Campaign: The Impossible Encounters
Brand: Lacoste
Brand Managers: Catherine Spindler, Nathalie Beguinot, Julien Scheubel, Yoann Wenger, Mylene Atlan, Caroline Geraud
Ad Agency: BETC Paris
Agency Managers: Bertille Toledano, Marine Hakim, Maud Lambert, Suzy Morin
Chief Creative Officer: Remi Babinet
Executive Creative Director: Florence Bellisson
Art Director: Agnes Cavard
Copywriters: Symonne Torpy, Antoine Gauquelin
Junior Art Director: Joachim Touitou
Music Creative Director: Adam Ghoubali
Strategic Planner: Yann Chervet
Traffic Manager: Alexandra Chini
Art Buyer: Isabelle Mocq
Photographer: Ronan Gallagher
TV Producer: Yannis Cullaz
Production Company: COLORS
Director: Yoni Lappin
Producer: Jules Dieng
Sound Company: GUM

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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