In 1951, the company began to expand as it branched from "tennis white" and introduced color shirts. In 1952, the shirts were exported to the United States and advertised as "the status symbol of the competent sportsman," influencing the clothing choices of the upper-class. It is still one of the most popular brands in the United States, sporting the "preppy wardrobe".
In 1963, Bernard Lacoste took over the management of the company from his father René. Significant company growth was seen under Bernard's management. When he became president, around 300,000 Lacoste products were sold annually. The Lacoste brand reached its height of popularity in the US during the late 1970s and became the signature 1980s "preppy" wardrobe item. The company also began to introduce other products into their line including shorts, perfume, optical and sunglasses, tennis shoes, deck shoes, walking shoes, watches, and various leather goods.
Lacoste Enters America
More recently, Lacoste's popularity has surged due to French designer Christophe Lemaire’s work to create a more modern, upscale look. In 2005, almost 50 million Lacoste products sold in over 110 countries. Its visibility has increased due to the contracts between Lacoste and several young tennis players, including American tennis star Andy Roddick, French rising young prospect Richard Gasquet, and Swiss Olympic gold medalist Stanislas Wawrinka. Lacoste has also begun to increase its presence in the golf world, where noted two time Masters Tournament champion José María Olazábal and Scottish golfer Colin Montgomerie have been seen sporting Lacoste shirts in tournaments.
Bernard Lacoste became seriously ill in early 2005, which led him to transfer the presidency of Lacoste to his younger brother and closest collaborator for many years, Michel Lacoste. Bernard died in Paris on March 21, 2006.
In Comes David Crystal
However, starting in 2000, with the hiring of a new fashion designer Christophe Lemaire, Lacoste began to take over control of its brand name and logo, reigning in their branding arrangements. Currently Lacoste has once again returned to the elite status it held before a brand management crisis circa 1990.
Lacoste had a long standing dispute over the logo and clothing lines with Crocodile Garments. Crocodile Garments uses a crocodile logo that faces left while Lacoste uses one that faces right. The two fought for the logo rights in China, which was won by Crocodile Garments in 2003. Crocodile Garments in return agreed to change its logo to have a more vertical tail and more scales
As of June 2007, Lacoste's online presence allows Americans to purchase clothing and have items shipped directly to their doors. The online store offers sizes and options not found in brick and mortar stores, along with a large sale section. Lacoste sneakers have grown in popularity and competes with Polo shoes.