Welcome to The Ivy League Look

This blog presents a historical view through articles, photographs, reminiscences, and advertisements, of an American style of men's fashion of the mid-20th century known as "The Ivy League Look" or "The Ivy Look."

This blog will not present modern-day iterations of this "look"; it will be shown in its original context as an American style worn during this specific era. Author commentary will be kept to a minimum.

This is not a commercial site and links to commercial sites will not be posted.

July 28, 2009

Sporty Emblems Sell Shirts, 1980

Sporty Emblems Sell Shirts

New York Times - 6/13/80
by Barbara Ettorre

Who would have thought that the insignia of a penguin, a rooster, a fox or an alligator could transport a simple cotton shirt from the confines of a sports arena onto the chests of middle America?

Yet according to retailers, the simple cotton knit short-sleeved sports shirt - epitomized by the classic Izod Lacoste shirt with the alligator trademark emblem - is outselling just about every other item in men's apparel this year.

Market share information is unavailable, but retailers agree that the Izod Lacoste sport shirt, which retails for about $20, is probably Number One, while Munsingwear's $14 Grand Slam shirt with a penguin emblem is a very close Number Two.

The shirts with the emblems seem to have all the prime ingredients for success in a dismal economy; status, practicality, price, fashion, flexibility and the ultimate benediction, enduring trendiness.

The more insignia appearing in the sports shirt marketplace, the better customers seem to like them. There are now at least a dozen emblems adorning shirts made by foreign and domestic companies, double the number of two or three years ago. This figure does not include similar shirts made by sports companies bearing such names as Head, Adidas and Nike. Among the emblems are the wreath by Fred Perry, the polo player by Ralph Lauren, the "T" emblem by Tacchini, and the kangaroo by L'Alpine. The latter two are Italian companies.

...At Bloomingdale's, for instance, industry sources estimate that the flagship store and its 13 branches sell at least 50,000 - about $1 million worth - of a single style of the Izod Lacoste shirt. The sources say that Saks Fifth Avenue, Izod's Number One men's wear account (Bloomingdale's is number two), does a comparable business in the single style. Both stores have a multi-million-dollar retail business in Izod men's apparel.

Known in the trade as style 2058 and by consumers as the "alligator shirt," the shirt's basic all-cotton style has not changed much since it first appeared on the tennis court 50 years ago worn by Rene Lacoste, the French player, who founded the Lacoste company, now a $50 million French concern. Izod has a licensing agreement with Lacoste to produce the apparel in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, and will approach $200 million in sales of men's, women's and children's apparel this year. The shirt alone accounts to 15 to 20 percent of the men's business.

The Izod Lacoste sport shirt and its successors have been given an aura of glamour, vital good health and old-fashioned hero worship. Many professional athletes have contracts with shirt manufacturers that require them to wear the sports shirt and related merchandise at tournaments and appearances.


Anonymous said...

The tennis shirts from Boast were popular in my high school. Probably because the emblem resembled a pot leaf.

Richard M said...

I have a Boast shirt, but with my club (Racquet Club of Philadelphia) emblem on it. Izod and Lacoste are now two separate companies.

ADG said...

IZOD....courtesy of their licensing agreement with France based LaCoste destroyed the brand. The resurrection is a brand management case study. LaCoste pulled the product from the US...waited for the requisite amount of time to let the downmarket-massmarket taint wash away from their little alligator and then the relaunched with restored cache.

Tucker said...

I wore Le Coq Sportif for a while. Just to be different. And maybe to be able to say "Coq" when prompted.