The IZOD story begins in London, where talented tailor, Arthur James "Jack" IZOD, opened the first A.J. IZOD store in London's West End in 1922, selling fine shirts, ties, hosiery and sportswear. In 1930, Edward, The Prince of Wales, was so impressed with Jack's apparel that he commissioned him to make shirts for the royal household. While in London, a United States executive from the clothing company David Crystal, Inc. became intrigued by the IZOD name that he purchased the rights to it. The IZOD brand was launched by David Crystal, Inc. in the United States in 1937.
Throughout second half of the 20th century, the IZOD polo became synonymous with the preppy look and lifestyle. Students made the polo part of their everyday uniform and made it their own by layering colors and popping the collars. The IZOD line has grown significantly beyond the signature polo, comprising a wide range of sportswear, golfwear and accessories.
Once he retired from tennis in the early 1930s, he started the company La Chemise Lacoste with his pal André Gillier, president of the largest French knitwear company at the time, to produce and sell crocodile-emblazoned shirts. The Lacoste tennis shirt made its way to the United States in 1952 and was carefully branded as “the status symbol of the competent sportsman,” an attempt to establish Lacoste in the upper echelons of society. Lacoste wound up in the United States because it had licensed its brand to Izod (then called Izod of London), which had been seeking out an upscale product.
Izod Lacoste, as the brand became known, initially looked like a flop; there weren’t many customers in the early ’50s for a pricey polo shirt (about $8 then) with a small crocodile sewn onto the chest. But Vincent De Paul Draddy, who originally licensed the Lacoste name for Izod, had a brilliant idea. He provided Izod Lacoste swag to some of his famous buddies, including JFK, President Eisenhower and Bing Crosby, and from there, the shirts caught on, and became easy to find in department stores. People were happy to wear them, especially if the rich and famous were already fans.
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