In today’s world, it has become almost impossible for art and design to stray away from politics due to the world’s evolution and increasing complexity. Although the activism aspect of design tends to shy away from larger industries (think architecture), others benefit from their ready-to-display nature such as fashion; therefore, fashion and politics are not strangers to each other. Dating back to 1923 when the first women's suit was made, the pivotal conversation that it had created still has lasting power until this day. Fast forward to the 1970s; fashion is overhauled with the anti-capitalist movement initiated by Japanese designers through exaggerated forms and unusual detailing. However, both of these cases deal with drastic changes of aesthetics in order to achieve an activistic stance. So the new question is, how do fashion designers deliver political statements amidst the growing variances of garments without having words plastered all over or creating radical transformations? The answer is quite simple: minimal manipulations.
Visual icons, while playing a vital role in marking a brand’s distinguished identity, also acts as a device to communicate goals and motives. Accordingly, bigger brands will tend to have louder voices because of their recognisability. Using that as an advantage, Lacoste had launched a limited edition collection of white polos to celebrate and create awareness of endangered species, in collaboration with Save Our Species project through France-based BETC agency. Deconstructing the iconic embroidered green Crocodile visual, the design team replaces it with a threatened animal in a series of 10, including Vaquita, Burmese Roofed Turtle, Saola, Javan Rhino and Kakapo Parrot amongst others. Keeping the trademarked colour, texture, and illustration style, the modest change demands the attention of customers, creating a dynamic in which they need to have multiple takes, thus increasing the recognition for these beautiful creatures.
But what makes this collection more critical and contextual is its acknowledgment of statistics, with the number of polo shirts reflecting the number of individuals known to remain around the globe. With a total of 1,775 shirts, some animals appear more than the rest due to their status; this also creates a strong interest in both new and loyal customers—a solid marketing strategy to go along with a purposeful cause. Proceeds from the sale of this series will be donated to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)—a well-known organisation that focuses on nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
Lacoste and BETC worked closely with IUCN's experts to define and select ten threatened species, whose animals have been designed by the Lacoste studio to create the logos, adopting exactly the same embroidery approach as the historic Crocodile, said Lacoste.
To me, there is a certain elegance in the way that Lacoste raised awareness. Avoid trending movements, the team at Lacoste chose a personal cause and developed a cautious yet playful approach towards the issue. There is intention behind every decision even with simple and minimalist execution; behind the presented beauty is a copious amount of research and planning for Lacoste to deliver a refined effortlessness.