Gen Y Fashion: Lacoste's Crocodile Goes High-Tech

Lacoste-BLacoste shirts may be about to celebrate the 80th birthday of that preppy little crocodile, but a futuristic new ad campaign shows why the brand is so appealing to its young fans.

An upbeat video shows teens and 20-somethings cavorting in shirts that can change color with the swipe of a crocodile; that respond to the environment; that keep score during a tennis match, or even shorten or lengthen sleeves with a simple shrug. After viewing the video and the print ads that support it, fans are then invited to go to Facebook and invent their own version of the shirt. The most original contributions, the company says, will then be illustrated by an artist and featured on its Facebook page, which has some 10 million fans.

So what will make for a winning idea? “We will choose the ones we had not imagined,” Louis Bonichon, creative director of MNSTR, the Paris-based agency that created the campaign, tells Marketing Daily in an email.

“We will try to represent ideas from the worldwide community, and esepcially those which follow the spirit of Lacoste -- innovation at the service of comfort and elegance.”

He says the illustrations will be based on the style of the ads used to introduce the tennis shirts back in 1933. 

It’s no accident that Lacoste launched the campaign on 12/12/12: It’s a play on L.12.12, the secret code name tennis great René “The Crocodile” Lacoste gave the shirt when he was perfecting the design back in the 1933. (L is for Lacoste, 1 code for the fabric, 2 code for the sleeve length, and 12 the number or prototypes he created before getting it right.)

MNSTR created the campaign, and had Fleur & Manu make the film. Print ads are running in such publications as Tennis, The Times and the Guardian in the UK, as well as a variety of titles in Europe.

While the Lacoste shirts don’t have any real digital capabilities (at least not yet), Gen Y clearly has an appetite for wired clothing. Recently, Macy’s debuted a men’s sweater with video embedded in its sleeve, as part of its newest Sean John collection.

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