The history of the polo shirt, a real must-have of the wardrobe, is surprising to say the least. Because of its name, one might think that it has a direct link with the equestrian sport to which it refers. This is both true and false.
What is true is that the practice of this sport, which dates back at least to the 10th century in Persia, gave rise in the 19th century to the creation of a new type of shirt called "polo shirt". It is in India, where polo was widely played by the elites, that the idea of adding buttons to the collar points of the shirts used to play this sport appeared to prevent players from being hampered by a collar flapping in the face at the fateful moment of hitting the ball. British troops stationed in India were quickly won over by this sport and its inventive outfit. So much so that they brought both to Britain. In 1896, it was an American visiting England who took up the idea of the button-down shirt: John E. Brooks, immediately offered in the Brooks Brothers shops the Oxford shirt called "button-down shirt" or more commonly "original polo shirt".
Apart from its name, this shirt had little in common with what would become the polo shirt from 1926, the year in which René Lacoste thought up, created and wore the polo shirt we all know today.
Fed up with the shirts usually worn to play tennis, René Lacoste invented a shirt made of a breathable and flexible material: the cotton piqué. He gave it a shape that was also much more suitable for tennis: les short sleeves, a collar that was flexible but able to keep upturned, longer back (“tennis tail”) to prevent the shirt from pulling out of the trousers and shorter button placket.
In addition to an outstanding career as a tennis player, he achieved total success with his polo shirt, which met the requirements of a stylish dress code sought after in the tennis world of the time, while providing the necessary comfort for the practice of this and other sports, such as polo, whose players very quickly took up this new garment.
The circle is complete...
In the 1950s, René Lacoste launched his brand in America, where he positioned the polo shirt as the "symbol of the accomplished sportsman", thus targeting a wealthy population. He also sold his products in high-end shops. Thanks to this positioning, politicians, for example, fell in love with polo shirts, such as Dwight Eisenhower, then American president, during his hyper publicised rounds of golf.
This huge worldwide success led to the creation of new brands that did not seek to reinvent the polo shirt but opted for a different market position: less upmarket and younger. It was tennis player Fred Perry who took on René Lacoste in 1954 on the polo shirt field, followed by Ralph Lauren in 1972. These two brands challenged the supremacy of Lacoste, but also and above all contributed to bringing the polo shirt into every wardrobe. This success was embodied by film stars, politicians (John F. Kennedy, J. Chirac, Sean Connery, etc.) or even American universities where the polo shirt was part of the preppy style.
On the other hand, some groups used the polo shirt to identify themselves, such as mods in Britain or some extremists in other parts of the world.
Despite that, the popularity of the polo shirt remains unaltered. Almost a century after its creation, it still represents the image of elegant and casual clothing for men and women alike. It is the garment that comes out in the spring, plain or patterned, to accompany a pair of jeans, chino trousers or bermudas, not forgetting the sunglasses!
Some variations have also appeared to meet other needs: long-sleeved, sleeveless (often worn by American female golfers in Florida accompanied by a visor, which goes to show that to play golf well you need to remove what is superfluous!) , made of jersey, polyester for sport, the rugby polo shirt, which was also a "polo” shirt in name only... but we will not enlarge on that here.
The customisable polo shirt has become a major ally for team building events, sporting events, dressing shop staff, uniforms in schools or universities, etc
To meet the needs of brands wishing to customise them, SOL'S offers a wide range of polo shirts for men, women and kids in a wide choice of colours, cuts and materials.