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Anjali Kirpalani| Posted On: 16-Nov-2012

French brand Lacoste unveiled its new store in Palladium, Mumbai last week. We caught up with CEO and Director of Lacoste India, Rajesh Jain to find out about the new offerings of the iconic brand, the brand's plans in India and more. The affable Rajesh also gave us a peek into the past and spoke about the origination of the brand. Read on to find out more...

What's new with Lacoste?
The brand has changed its offering which can be seen especially in the women's range. You can see that we have started changing silhouettes. Our international creative designer has started playing with fabrics itself. Instead of only knitted garments, now we have cotton plus viscose fabrics which are new. Plus Lacoste believes in constant innovation and change. Our entire offering keeps changing every six months. For every season, we bring a new offering. Apart from that if you look at the store, the furnishings and the presentation, we are on to a 2.6 version of furniture now, which is above the 2.3 version that we used to use earlier. Now you have a different kind of hanging furniture where we can hang the garments instead of just stacking it. So that's one change that Lacoste has brought. Secondly we have launched Lacoste L!VE; this is another brand from Lacoste which was launched a couple of years ago. India is one of the few countries where we could open an exclusive Lactoste L!VE in Select City, Delhi. It's doing wonderfully well. It's predominantly meant for the youth; those who are from 18 to 25-30 years of age. These garments are more fashion contemporary. Meant for people who are fashion conscious but not necessarily fashion forward. This is not boisterous but bold. These are more fitted garments; different kinds of garments and different styles. We have also opened a Polo Lounge in Mumbai. This is the first Lacoste Polo Lounge in the world. Opened in Linking Road, Bandra, the store only houses Polo shirts.

How did the Polo Lounge come about?
It's an interesting story. We'll need to look at the history of the brand first. Till 1927, most of the tennis matches were won by the U.S. In 1927, René Lacoste entered and won most of the international matches; U.S. Open, French Open. He was very tenacious on the field, just like a crocodile.When a crocodile catches its prey, it doesn't let it go. Similarly, Rene Lacoste when he would play on the field, would not leave his opponents until he won! So everybody started affectionately calling him Mr. crocodile.  That's how the logo came about. So the polo lounge has been created to honour Rene Lacoste and reflect his values of comfort and solidity.

Lacoste ventured into womenswear just three seasons ago. How has the response to womenswear been?
The response has been very good. We believe that women have their own style statement. They don't opt for just logos. They want to make a complete style statement and that's why in the new range you see that even the logo is discreet; it's not necessarily prominent on the chest. The silhouettes have also changed. Women have really liked these changes.

What about kidswear? Is that a big market for you?
Kidswear is not currently a big market but it is growing. Parents don't only buy kidswear for their children but also for gifting purposes whenever they have  to gift. Lacoste kids clothing is considered a good gift these days. So it is slowly and gradually picking up.

Let's talk about your expansion within Mumbai. Why did you choose Palladium as the location for your new store?
Palladium is a wonderful place. It is the retail destination. We have been looking for a space for a long time and finally we could locate one so we're very happy.  From the very beginning, Palladium has given us a very good customer response. It has already turned out to be one of the very best stores in the country for us and we're very happy to see the discerning customers here.

What are Lacoste's plans for 2013 in India?
If I summarize it in one word, it is expansion. That's what we're looking at in India. I'm happy to share with you that 2011 onward, we decided that our number of stores should double by 2014 and our sales should triple by that time and we're pretty much on target. So last year we grew 33% versus the year before that. In the current year our target is to grow by 35 to 40 %. So far we are very much on target and very hopeful that we'll complete our targets this year also.  Next year also we want to grow at the same rate. Our number of point of sales is also growing in the same way and we're very happy about that.

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