A shifting design model: Lacoste appoints new Creative Design Director and the collaborations continue
The fashion industry entered 2023 with a bang. We’ve seen huge collaborations such as Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama and new creative directors taking the spotlight.
Firstly, Gucci disclosed their latest Creative Director, Sabato De Sarno, less than two weeks after Lacoste announced the departure of their first female creative director, Louise Trotter. Despite having said that they would not replace her as Creative Director, exactly a month later, Greek-American Pelagia Kolotouros has been appointed under the newly created position of creative design director.
Following in the footsteps of Moncler, Balmain, and Diesel, Lacoste is shifting towards a collective design model, meaning the attention will be shifted away ‘from one sole designer to a rotating lineup of creatives’. So, what does this mean for the brand and Kolotouros herself?
50-year-old Pelagia Kolotouros is already well-known in the world of fashion, but not much has been reported on her personal biography. She previously worked at The North Face and Calvin Klein, as well as with Adidas on their collaborations. With a background from New York’s Parsons School of Design, there’s no doubt that Kolotouros will bring great things to Lacoste. Deputy CEO of the company, Catherine Spindler, said she’s looking forward to Kolotouros’ ability to “elevate pieces to iconic status” and her “talent for connecting cultures, particularly from fashion and sports” making Lacoste “the most inspiring French brand in fashion sports.”
Lacoste was founded in 1933 by tennis player René Lacoste and entrepreneur Andre Gillier, who owned the largest French knitwear manufacturing firm at the time. Originally called La Chemise Lacoste, the brand is known for its tennis wear and iconic crocodile logo which was Lacoste’s sporting nickname. The brand has had contracts with famous tennis players like Richard Gasquet, Andy Roddick, Stanislas Wawrinka, and, perhaps most famously, Novak Djokovic since 2017. In recent years, the brand has reached sales of 2.5 billion euros in 2022 alone. Their latest collab was with Minecraft in March 2022 where they produced lounge and sportswear for gamers as well as a Lacoste-branded Minecraft world called ‘Croco Island’.
Recently, we have seen a huge increase in sportswear collaborations, with notable collections from Adidas and Nike in particular. The soar came post-pandemic with Louis Vuitton x NBA and Nike x Dior in 2020. Since then, Nike has pursued two other collaborations: the first with Drake, and one with Tiffany & Co.
Adidas has also had its fair share of collaborations with everyone from Gucci and Prada in 2022 and Karlie Kloss in the preceding year. So far, we know of at least one more sportswear and fashion collaboration between Travis Scott and Air Jordans, but since it’s only February, there are bound to be many more to come.
Vogue suggested that this rise of post-pandemic collaborations could stem from how people have learned “the value of togetherness in our years of isolation” or from efforts to become more sustainable. Whilst there is certainly some truth in this, I believe that the rise in collaborations is in no way coincidental with the new collective design model emerging in fashion.
This shift arguably began with Remo Ruffini’s Moncler Genius project, announced at Milan Fashion Week for the 2018/19 season. His idea is essentially that ‘multiple creative directors… work for the same brand, creating their own individual collections that are released on a rolling calendar’ thus seamlessly blending the ideas of fashion collaborations with ‘drop’ culture to provide customers with more content. The designers for the initial project included Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli and London-based designers Craig Queen, Richard Quinn, and Simone Rocha. This year, the Moncler Genius project has also listed new partners outside of the fashion industry for their collections including Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and Pharrell Williams.
But what does all this mean for the fashion industry and Lacoste in particular?
We would argue that for the fashion industry, it looks like collaborations and collective design models are the future. They won’t always be well-liked (see some of the worst ones here) but they’re usually accompanied by a lot of press and buzz on social media, which isn’t the worst thing. In terms of Lacoste’s future, it’s unclear how much the new appointment will change its brand, especially with Kolotouros’ history of collaborations. One thing we do know, however, is that we have a lot to look forward to!