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L.12.12: Celebrating an Icon

Get your chance to etch your initials onto an icon by personalising an L.12.12 shirt

Long before tennis players had the freedom to dress for the match according to their own styles, the storied lawns and courts of Wimbledon, Roland Garros and the like were littered with men and women in crisp white, long-sleeved, buttoned-down uniforms. Players had to roll up their sleeves to free up their arms and move better.

In the late 1920s, French tennis champion René Lacoste turned up at the United States National Championship wearing a short-sleeved shirt, seemingly challenging a longstanding tradition. Then, after finding inspiration from his friend, a skilled polo player by the name of Lord Cholmondeley who wore his polo shirt to the court, Lacoste set out to invent a new kind of sport (and leisure) shirt that eventually changed the way the players dressed for the court.

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In 1933, Lacoste sought the help of loose-knit fabric expert André Gillier to further innovate his own design of polo shirts. Together, they arrived with the creation of the revolutionary piqué cotton fabric, lightweight yet sturdy and breathable, perfect for the purpose of sport as it lets the body breathe yet maintains its prim appearance. The design followed the short-sleeved form, but instead of a line of buttons extending all the way down, the shirt was made to be a pullover with a turndown collar and three buttons on the placket that were meant to secure the top.

Sealing its reputation as an icon, Lacoste then emblazoned an image of a crocodile, a moniker he has earned for his style of play. Thus, the L.12.12 was born.

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The L.12.12 shirt today: a play of colours

What does the code mean? L for Lacoste, 1 for its unique fabric, 2 for the short-sleeved design, and 12 for the number of the version finally selected by the man himself.

With the L.12.12, Lacoste introduced a new kind of practical yet elegant fashion. Over the years, it has become a chic and timeless essential, yet constantly updated to reflect the changing times. In 1951, colour made its way to the collection, infusing it with a cheerfulness to match its elegance.

The iconic polo has also occasionally been reinterpreted by the world’s most renowned designers. The list includes the Campanas brothers, a pair of Brazilian artists who designed limited series Lacoste polos featuring reptile inspired motifs,  and John Paul Goude who designed the 2016 holiday collection.

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Today, the L.12.12 Petit Pique pattern has been adapted to an entire collection of products: apparel, leather goods, eyewear, footwear, watches, and even fragrances. All of them follow the brand’s essence of French elegance, sport-inspired cut, and extensive colour palette.

Lacoste will highlight and celebrate these authentic sportive roots and showcase the L.12.12 family in the #Lacoste1212PH Pop Up. Catch it at SM Mall of Asia Level 2 from March 29 to April 2. The caravan has previously stopped by the Trinoma cinema lobby, the Alabang Town Centre Corte de las Palmas, and the Central Square Atrium in the previous weeks.

At the Pop Up, customers can have their L.12.12 customised with a limited-edition artwork and embroidered with their initials. This service comes free with any polo purchase.

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