Lacoste’s famous crocodile has been on the company’s polo shirts for 80 years. Until now. The fashion company has removed its iconic crocodile logo from its polos and filled the position with a few rare animals that could benefit from the shared spotlight. To highlight the threat of extinction, Lacoste has created a limited edition set of polos that will replace the logo above the left breast of their shirts with images of 10 endangered species.
The brand teamed up with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to discuss thousands of animals on their threatened and endangered list. This partnership is the first time the brand allowed the little green logo to change and showcase another animal. The company’s signature mascot was originally created as a nod to the company’s founder René Lacoste. As a French tennis champion, he earned the nickname “crocodile” on the court for his tenacious playing style back in 1927.
Today, Lacoste has committed to a three-year partnership with IUCN’s Save Our Species (SOS) program to bring attention to other animals. This organization makes a difference by taking donations and funds to the frontlines of animal conservation to save the most threatened species before they become extinct. Any money that goes to the program is reinvested to either nature protection actions or to communication efforts to draw attention to urgent issues and spread awareness. Being the last line of defense for a species is a daunting task to be sure, but the SOS is able to save animals with the help of scientists around the world through the IUCN Species Survival Commission.
To drive the point home, and show how urgent the threat of extinction is for these animals, the number of shirts produced by Lacoste for each series intentionally corresponds with the species' remaining population in the wild. In total, 1,775 shirts were created to raise money for the campaign.
The IUCN also helped chose which 10 animals to highlight. The species in most need is the Vaquita or Gulf of California porpoise. There are only 30 of these mammals left, since they’ve become critically endangered due to commercial fishing net practices. The Burmese Roofed Turtle's population is not much higher than the Vaquita’s. There are only 40 of these turtles in wild, because their eggs are often taken by people. The third most threatened animal is the Northern Sportive Lemur with a population of 50 in the wild. These critically endangered primates are now rare because of deforestation and poaching.
Lacoste also put a spotlight on the 67 Javan Rhinos which are on the brink of extinction because of poaching and low reproduction rates. While they might not be in double digits yet, other engaged animals in the group included the Cao-vit Gibbon, Kakapo, California Condor, Saola and Sumatran Tiger. The most available edition is the Anegada Ground Iguana, which was featured on 450 polos.
Jeff Corwin, a wildlife expert, hopes this project inspires other companies to spread awareness and make a tangible impact on wildlife conservation. He told CNN, "It's a great start and I'm hoping it's just the beginning and inspires other companies to follow suit. Maybe Jaguar will do something for jaguars. Ram trucks maybe will start protecting big horn sheep.”
Besides getting a polo, people can help fight for wildlife conservation worldwide by spreading awareness using the hashtag #SaveOurSpecies or making a donation to Save Our Species.