What hasn't been said about the Lacoste polo shirt?
That it is the standby for sport-inspired elegance or, really, what you call, loafing-around-the-mall style?
That it lends some sort of magic, transforming you, its wearer, into a cool Parisian person, and that is why you like it?
That its premium cost is a you've-made-it signifier, and that is why you really like it?
That, amid the turmoil of brick-and-mortar stores, its boutiques remain full, especially during the holidays, when everyone, from the titos to your lolo who rarely goes shopping, makes their way to one of the its many shops to buy more of the shirts.
And that, after the founding of its French label by tennis player René Lacoste 85 years ago, the short-sleeved, collared, petit piqué polo shirt with the embroidered croc (a style that resulted from the removal of the long sleeves to better suit the game of tennis) still looks fresh today.
Lacoste remains relevant because it continues to build on that singular polo shirt. This year, it made a lot of noise when it switched out the crocodile emblem for one of 10 in-danger species, including the Cao Vat gibbon and California gondor, and more recently, it allied with everybody's favorite dance partner, Supreme, for a co-branded collection of '90s velour hits.
In this banner year, the label trains the spotlight on the iconic polo shirt by revisiting eight decades of its evolution. Since 1933, the original L.12.12 polo shirt has adapted to the tastes of the decades, and the special 85th anniversary unisex collection reflects this.
The shifts occurred in both style, as in the sweatshirt of the '50s or the button-up polo of the '60s, as well as design, as seen in the color blocking of the '70s or the sailor stripes of the '80s.
The screenprint polo shirt of the '90s (think a garment half-dipped in tub of vivid color, resulting in an jaggged-edged two-tone flourish) is most striking. To complete the look, tennis shoes, a bucket bag, a knapsack, and a belt bag are also available.
An exhibit designed around evolution of the L.12.12 polo shirt and the story of founder René Lacoste makes Manila its fifth stop in its Asian tour. Here, among the tennis rackets and the different iterations of the crocodile is the Paris polo, too.
This iteration of the polo shirt projects a new French elegance with its concealed button placket and tailored shirt collar, but you know what remains constant? That little crocodile on the left breast of the shirt and the fascination of people, including you, over it.
The Lacoste 85th Anniversary Exhibition runs until September 14 at Central Square, Bonifacio High Street.