Like a “ball boy” ballet, Roland Garros obeys a strict choreography with clearly defined rules, a mix of bourgeois codes and Old-School politeness. At a time when we call for a return to good manners, international tennis seems, more than ever, to echo the signs of the times with its strict outfits, well-oiled codes and rigid etiquette. This excess of politeness gives the event its own unusual, retro charm.
Writing about Lacoste personalities makes us want to take a closer look at the brand and ask questions that have not yet been answered. Because there is something puzzling in the brand’s identity : while it is extremely coded with strong values, it is the subject of many interpretations and perceptions.
On one hand, it incarnates French know-how, a “Tradiscrete” sportswear heritage subscribed to by companies like Kitsuné. This perception of the brand is in line with the overall atmosphere at Roland Garros, part-bourgeois and part-nostalgia, that plays the card of a return to “Made in France”. On the other hand, the sport culture today is more about private clubs than boisterous locker rooms. The Carven Spring/Summer 2012 ad campaign could be cited as an example. And Lacoste currently benefits from a designer brand status buoyed by the unmistakable talent of Felipe Olivera Baptisa.
(c) Irving Penn
Finally, Lacoste also possesses a more counter-culture aspect that, though sometimes ambiguous for the brand, does charm us and takes it beyond the too-slick overtones in which it could have enclosed itself. Because of its omnipresence in the French fashion landscape, it is the subject of multiple reworkings : as a brand for suburban youth who adopt it as revenge against the 90’s bourgeoisie ; reworked in a “pop” style by the Fluokids movement of the 2000 years, typified by singer Teki Latex of the group TTC ; its very literal adoption by trendies during the 2010 preppy wave …
The brand mutates. If youth and humor have seemed to be “collateral damage” which is unexpected and not always mastered, the launch of the Live ! line shows Lacoste’s wish to address a younger public more in synch with their era. With its identity, language, references, muses and codes, Live ! co-exists with Lacoste, playing the card of youth and fun while the original brand addresses heritage and seriousness. Successfully.
This difference between seriousness and humor or sport and creation confirms our vision of brand strategies today – and what we transmit to our clients : if we know who we are, anything (or almost anything) is possible.