Lacoste x Polaroid
Capturing Memories of Youth Since Forever
Words: Caiza Andresen
Since Rene Lacoste, nicknamed »The Crocodile« for his toughness on the tennis court, founded his namesake brand in 1933, a long time has passed. With the brand having almost a century under its belt, Lacoste has always been attractive for young and creative minds. The crocodile found its habitat in youth scenes from the banlieus of France to football aficionados in the UK, the emerging Hip Hop scene of the US, an obscure subculture named »Poppers« in Germany to the favelas of Brazil.
In contrast to other brands of the luxury segment who shied away from their not posh enough clientele (I’m looking at you, Burberry. We won’t forget that you decided to hide your famous pattern for a long while because you didn’t want to be associated with poor british youths…), Lacoste embraced the brand‘s fandom and over the years not only collaborated with Supreme, Opening Ceremony and the Cool Cats from France, but also with an artist named Tyler, the Creator, who a few years ago could have been seen as the personified nightmare of every parent worldwide. Lacoste was made for the tennis court, but it has always been a cornerstone in subcultural clothing. Lacoste does not only adapt youth cultures, they understand it.
Take Casual culture, the subsection of football culture which is a mixture of hooliganism and being proper dressed in designer clothing, that quickly adopted the iconic crocodile adorned brand into its wardrobe. If you are not brave enough to frequent the right bars, pubs or stadiums that often challenge the croc per square meter-ratio of certain areas of a zoo, you can take a look at great movies like »ID« (1995), »The Firm« (1989, remade in 2009) or »The Football Factory« (2004) to get a glimpse into an unmatching love for football and also witness a kind of runway fashion show. The crocodile always presented very prominently.
In 1995 French director Mathieu Kassovitz took the world onto a trip to inner city Paris and shocked the world with the tristesse of youths that live from day to day and don’t seem to believe in a future even though they wish »Le monde est a nous« in his masterpiece »La Haine«. There is an iconic scene where the police interrupts a peaceful barbecue and after a confrontation goes into negotiation with the »leader«, protagonist Said’s older brother. He is prominently dressed in Lacoste, wearing a crisp polo shirt under a crocodile embroidered cardigan. Croc on croc. An iconic tennis player look transported from the court to a roof top in Paris. That image stuck with me since I saw the movie for the first time.
No wonder that this look was used by one of the most successful German rap groups of all time who built the brand a musical monument with their hymn »Schnapp« in 2014. That year you could not pass a group of teenagers hanging in a park without hearing the lyrics »Schnapp macht das Krokodil, Krokodil, Schnapp!« coming from the speakers of their phone. What sounds like a children’s verse actually was referring to the desire to get rich, to get what one deserves. The Lacoste crocodile became a symbol displayed permanently in the accompanying video clip.
This year we are witnessing Lacoste coming together with Polaroid. It may sound funny at first, but this collaboration just fits perfectly when you think about it and free your mind of the thought »What do a camera and a polo shirt have in common?«. While the youth unfortunately is just a chapter in the book we call life, it is mostly seen as the most precious one. One we fondly remember and don’t want to loose. One we tend to tightly hold on to in a photograph. That’s how Polaroid comes into the picture (No pun intended).
With all of us nowadays having access to a digital camera through our smartphone everywhere we go, the revolutionary concept that Polaroid presented a couple of decades ago seems obsolete, but still until this day there is no way to overlook the charme that came with the possibility to have your fully developed photo in hand in a matter of minutes. Using your phone 24/7 to snap a pic of everything that comes before your lense is kind of an overkill. The significance of a photo taken is watered down. Yes, you can browse through the eighty photos you took and select the best one, but where is the spontaneity in capturing a moment to last? Is it real? Is it the memory you want to preserve or is it a staged picture? With a Polaroid the moment was not only captured but instantly »set in stone« or better said printed on paper. If you did not like the photo you could throw it away, but it has existed in physical form. The moment becomes so much more than a memory.
Polaroid was founded in 1937 and introduced what we know as their typical instant camera in 1972. The concept was groundbreaking. And it did not only make ordinary consumers turn their heads but artists as well. When German director Wim Wenders first heard about this new device and instantly (again, no pun intended) wrote the company and was provided with two of their cameras to work with, he decided to give them a prominent role in his works, especially in his road movie »Alice In The Cities« (1974), which deals with a German journalist tasked to write a story about the US, but instead just keeps taking polaroid to capture the country. American photography legend Ansel Adams worked for Polaroid in the 1960s and included this new way of taking photos into his work. So did Andy Warhol. His Polaroid portraits have become a mainstay in art and photography history. Dawoud Bey is another name to look up in that matter.
Just as Lacoste has been an integral piece in representation of youth culture and therefore will always be a part of fond memories of people all over the globe, Polaroid was the medium preserving those memories.
A perfect match. This Tennis pun was intended.
Lacoste x Polaroid is now available at HHV: Lacoste x Polaroid Online Shop | HHV