#CNI Lux Day 2: How Lacoste Raised Its Game
Alice Newbold, Vogue Daily Editor, reporting live from the CNI Luxury Conference in Lisbon
Lacoste found its ace player when it hired Felipe Oliveira Baptista as creative director in 2010. The Portuguese-born, Paris-based designer studied fashion design at Kingston University in London, then went on to design for Max Mara and Cerruti before founding his own label in 2003 (he closed this in 2013 to focus his efforts on Lacoste). His dynamism and energy has seen him reinterpret the classic tropes of the house – the polo shirt, that crocodile logo – and make them interesting again for a modern consumer. At the Condé Nast International Luxury Conference, he told Suzy Menkes and Manuel Arnaut, editor-in-chief of Vogue Arabia, his method behind urbanising the French tennis brand.
“Lacoste is about clothes to move in, it’s a technical uniform for life,” Baptista explained. “I gave myself momentum to keep up this perpetual movement.” Collaborations play a key part in this. 2017’s Lacoste tie-up with Supreme sold out in 16 minutes and opened the door to a younger audience. 2018’s ‘Endangered Species’ collection with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which saw Lacoste drop its iconic crocodile logo for the first time in the brand’s 85-year history in favour of motifs of endangered species, went viral, because, Baptista believes, “It said we care.”
Though he has lived in France for 20 years, and has previously worked in Italy and India, and studied in London, his Portuguese roots continue to inspire him and he believes there is a lusophone link in fashion. “There is a quietness about the Portuguese and a certain minimalism,” he said. “It’s a special melting pot. I see all of that in my work.”
“It’s all about dialogues, so I tend to stay very open,” he continued. “There are no universal rules so that brings you back to your beliefs and your instincts.” Diversity within his design team helps. “We have 40 people in the studio of ten different nationalities,” he clarified. “It’s an interesting picture, and that is how we are a global brand.”
The fourth annual Condé Nast International Luxury Conference is in Lisbon, on the 18th and 19th April. For more information, visit the website