René Lacoste was an inventor. His love of tennis—he won seven Grand Slam single titles before retiring in 1932—led his list of inventions, from the first steel tennis racket and first ball machine to the famed Lacoste polo shirt. As the Lacoste company evolved it moved toward tennis-inspired fashion, but recent decisions by the French-based business has shown Lacoste hasn’t lost sight of a place in performance tennis.
“For Lacoste,” says Axel Carré, Lacoste vice president of global sports marketing, “innovation and racket development are part of our DNA. The brand is anchored in its sports heritage. René Lacoste invented several rackets by integrating new materials and innovative shapes.” That heritage has new life with the L20 racket, made in partnership with Tecnifibre, a French-based performance tennis brand Lacoste acquired in 2017.
“The partnership has been a value-add for both brands,” says Marco Baron, Tecnifibre North America CEO. “Through this partnership the two brands have been able to combine their products and assets to outfit and equip tennis players of all levels seeking high-quality products with an elegant, timeless style to it. This complete offering both Tecnifibre and Lacoste can offer would have not been possible without one another.”
The L20 serves as an example. Baron says the technology behind the racket stems from original René Lacoste patents, modernized by Tecnifibre engineering. The racket’s vibration dampening system that sits in the handle of the racket to improve player comfort by eliminating vibrations, giving it a “unique soft feeling and sound,” he says. “What you see and experience with the L20 is an elegant, innovative and comfortable playing racket that you can’t compare with anything else in the market.”
The launch of the L20 follows the heels of various Lacoste racket releases over the years, but nothing for the last five-plus years. And this comes following the Lacoste debut of performance AGLT-21 Ultra tennis shoes worn by world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev.
Lacoste now outfits word No. 1 Novak Djokovic with his apparel and has Medvedev head to toe while he uses a Tecnifibre racket.
“We are proud of our sporting DNA; it is part of our history, our brand and its evolution,” Carré says. “Between Lacoste and Tecnifibre, we cover a very wide spectrum of players. From novice to professional players such as Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev, all can find products in our ranges that meet their needs, performance as well as style.”
He says that with an entire range of technical apparel, luggage, rackets with Tecnifibre and now footwear, Lacoste again has “coverage with a high technical level to serve the best players today.” Lacoste continues to partner with Roland-Garros and the Miami Open for special collections and the brand’s Tenifibre partnership helps create a more synergistic off-court and on-court experience for its customers.
The two brands remain independent but cohabitate. Lacoste recently moved the distribution of it s sports range to Tecnifibre, a brand that started in 1979 and created the first high-end multifilament tennis strings.
The L20 brings René Lacoste inventions to life, but also uses the shape of Tecnifibre frames and was designed to highlight the brand’s multifilament string. “The racket is designed for those who want to combine elegance with performance, for those who want to play in style,” Baron says. “With that audience in mind, Tecnifibre worked on a specific weight and balance to reach these players.”
Designed for the intermediate player, the graphite frame with a 100-square-inch head, 27-inch length, 16×19 string pattern and 10.2-ounce weight with a denser string pattern in the center of the racket—another René Lacoste invention—for improved controlled power also brings with it Lacoste branding and aesthetics. Already deemed a success for the brand, there are no plans to add new lines of frames outside the L20, but Lacoste hasn’t closed the door on the evolution of the L20.
As Lacoste continues to build out a range of accessories around the L20, embrace the AGLT-21 Ultra footwear and outfit some of the world’s top players in technical apparel, the partnership with Tecnifibre serves as an example of how the 88-year-old company founded in tennis will always keep the sport at the core.
“Our mission is to connect all cultures in fashion with iconic pieces that bring different generations and cultures together,” Carré says. “It is this diversity that makes our brand unique. In sports it’s the same thing, the treatment we give to our ranges allows us to reach out to younger players with the gaming dimensions around the AGLT-21 Ultra worn by Daniil Medvedev as well as more classic players who have been crocodile fans for several years.”