Lacoste For The Andover Shop, 1958


One of the pleasures of spending time among archival material is the chance discovery. We recently came across an Izod Lacoste advertisement that was used in 1958 and 1959, placed by The Andover Shop.

On the surface it does not appear different from other Izod-Lacoste advertising material from the period. It carries the sobriety one might expect from the faux Anglo-Franco alliance. While the French side was real — Lacoste was founded by the tennis champ Rene Lacoste, nicknamed “Le Crocodile” — the other pard is English in name only.  Izod was a London tailor, but an American bought the rights to use his name to play up the English pedigree.

The ad’s illustrated model is a mature golfer, his trousers pleated and his shirt buttons all buttoned up — quite incorrectly, as The Andover Shop’s Charlie Davidson says this was never done. It is likely a stock image.

The curious part is where the advertisement was placed, who placed it, and the Ivy-relevant copywriting that is going to invite a comparison to our previous piece on the difference — or not — between Ivy and preppy.

The ad appeared in the Phillipian, the student newspaper of Phillips Academy (long known as a feeder school to Yale) and the advertiser is none other than The Andover Shop. The ad copy certainly isn’t stock and is a veritable ode to Ivy:

Through the hallowed halls of learning
And the fields of sport and play
Strides the modern Ivy League man
In the costume of the day.

In his clothing there’s distinction
And he knows the signs of style
On his slacks a silver buckle
On his shirt a crocodile.

For the croc’s a sign of quality
Of shoulders never sagging
Of collars that will always fit
And garments never bagging

Its built a reputation
Its fame just grows and grows
Chemise Lacoste is worn by
Every Ivy man who knows.

Yet further evidence, we think, that the preppy style that flourished in the ’70s had the bulk of its origins in the Ivy League Look of a generation before.

We called Charlie Davidson and asked if he had any recollection of the ad, but he did not. By that time he was running just the Cambridge store, with family members running the branch in Andover.

He did recall that Lacoste shirts from that period were of exceptional quality, and that while he never liked to stock name brands, Lacoste sold better than any brand he’s ever carried.

Charlie also recalled how the shirts were worn with the collar popped, and how “guys in Southampton would wear two at a time,” but he couldn’t tell us precisely what decade these trends first emerged. — CHRISTOPHER SHARP & CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

11 Comments on "Lacoste For The Andover Shop, 1958"

  1. Jeff Jarmuth | May 21, 2013 at 8:24 am |

    Ubiquitous in photos from Exmoor CC near Chicago as early as the late 40s. Everybody was wearing Lacoste shirts by the early 70s. And, yes, Mr. Davidson’s comment about quality brought back memories. Until the mark was sold to a conglomerate in (perhaps) the early 80s, the cotton pique was very heavy and unique and faded to even more glorious colors. The reconstituted brand is good, but nothing like the original.

  2. Philly Trad | May 21, 2013 at 8:42 am |

    Notice that the trouser waist is at a proper height.

  3. Reactionary Trad | May 21, 2013 at 10:30 am |

    Always a pleasure to see something about authentic Ivy style on this blog.

  4. Historical note: J. Press carried the Fred Perry shirt exclusively in Ivy neighborhoods since much of the competition did Lacoste. Fred Perry matched Lacoste except for the logo, a no croc Ivy wreath, perhaps a better fit for the hood.

  5. Boston Bean | May 21, 2013 at 11:14 pm |

    @Philly Trad

    Also notice that both buttons on the polo shirt are buttoned. That was one of the sartorial signs of a true gentleman at the time. Nowadays, men who think they are dressing in Ivy style leave both buttons unbuttoned. They also wear low-waisted trousers and skin-tight jackets.

  6. Vittorio Affanculo | May 22, 2013 at 4:15 am |

    Far be it for me to question the authority of such a figure as Charlie Davidson but I fear his memory fails him – viz.

    Another orthodoxy blown out of the water.

  7. Where there are no orthodoxies, there are fewer hierarchies. It’s probably best that Ivy lack priests, bishops, and popes.

    Unless we’re talking John Clark Wood, of course. Mitre worthy.

  8. James Redhouse | May 22, 2013 at 6:34 am |

    @Vittorio Affanculo
    @Boston Bean

    Polo shirts were most certainly buttoned up when worn with a jacket in the 60s, by the Ivy cognoscenti in New England, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

  9. I find the price of the shirt to be very interesting. If you do an inflation calculation for the period May 1958 to April 2013, you would find the average to be about 705%. Some simple math would tell you that if Lacoste only increased their prices based upon inflation, the going rate of their sport shirt today would be $63.75. That makes the current $90 price tag seem a bit like gouging, especially considering the accompanying decrease in quality.

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