Polo shirts have gained popularity in recent years with the young and old, men and women alike. The shirts feature a t-shaped design as well as a collar. Polo shirts are also sometimes called golf shirts or tennis shirts. The design was invented by an accomplished tennis player, Rene Lacoste, a 7-time Grand Slam champion, who was seeking a more comfortable and less cumbersome design. The current attire at that time was stiff, long-sleeved, and very uncomfortable. It tended to hinder game play excessively. In 1926, Lacoste debut his Lacoste polo shirt at the U.S. Open Championship. It was a white polo shirt, and was constructed with soft and lightweight cotton. It featured a collar which Lacoste contended could be turned up in order to shield the player’s necks from the sun. In 1927, Lacoste began to adorn his polo shirt with an alligator emblem which Lacoste polo shirts still feature today. Lacoste was then called "the alligator" a nickname which he embraced.
The polo shirt gained its named after it became very popular with polo players. The old designed polo shirts also carried this name, but once the players began to use this new design exclusively, the thick, uncomfortable, long-sleeved design previously used became obsolete. Polo players opted for buttoned down collars so that the collars would not flap in their faces during competitions.
Since its design in 1926, the polo shirt design has been gaining popularity and has been used not only for sports like tennis, golf and obviously polo, but polo shirts are also worn in daily life by non-athletes. They are popular with casual amateur sportsmen as well, like the weekend golfer. Lacoste helped this trend move along when he retired from tennis in 1933 and joined forces with a friend, Andre Gillier, who was a clothing manufacturer. The pair created the clothing company Chemise Lacoste, which specialized in developing the Lacoste polo shirt design, and they marketed their polo shirts to both European and North American consumers.
Another popular polo shirt design is the Ralph Lauren polo shirt. This polo shirt’s emblem is highly recognizable, much like the alligator on the Lacoste polo shirt. Ralph Lauren polo shirts feature a small polo player on his horse. It is often stitched on the breast of the polo shirt. Ralph Lauren polo shirts were first released in 1972 and were available in 24 colors. Ralph Lauren polo shirts instantly became a classic and are still very popular today, some 38 years later.
Abercrombie & Fitch polo shirts offer another classic and easily recognizable design and brand name, but this brand differs in that they specifically target a younger audience, aiming their products at the 18 to 22 year old age range. A subset of Abercrombie & Fitch, abercrombie, markets to a still younger crowd of 7-14 year old consumers. Abercrombie & Fitch is one of the oldest polo shirt designers, as the company was founded all the way back in 1892 in Manhattan in New York City.