The battle of the brands
The hosiery industry in Troyes and the Aube has given rise to a vast array of famous brands and legendary items of clothing, including the Dim stocking, Petit Bateau knickers, the Scandale bra, the Barbara lingerie range, the Lacoste polo, the Benetton sweater, Absorba baby clothes, the Jil briefs, the Babygro sleep suit, Olympia socks and Le Coq Sportif jerseys. Many of these brands and items are now etched into the national consciousness, and some of them continue to act as global ambassadors of French fashion design to this day. Collections by Agnès b. and Sonia Rykiel are still manufactured in Troyes today. Troyes, the capital of knitwear, will go down in history as the place where the open-fly briefs and the legless knickers were invented. Legend has it that the famous Petit Bateau knickers, the result of a bold slip of the scissors, owe their name to the fact that their creator overheard his son reciting a famous nursery rhyme from the time: Maman les p’tits bateaux qui vont sur l’eau ont-ils des jambes ? (Mummy, do little boats that sail on the water have legs?).
Lacoste, since 1933
You could say that Lacoste’s famous green crocodile was born in Troyes in 1933. At the time, “the crocodile” was the nickname of French tennis player René Lacoste, on account of his relentless grip on his prey.
One day, Lacoste decided to embroider a crocodile on the chest of his blazers. Unwittingly, the famous sportsman had invented the first commercial logo and launched a new fashion trend. It was only natural that the tennis player should look to the capital of knitwear, Troyes, to manufacture his shirts.
Gillier was the company upon which he bestowed this honour. It was a highly successful company that was recognised as a benchmark when it came to both technology and treatment of its workers. As we are all aware, the Lacoste shirt would go on to enjoy global success. It is still manufactured in Troyes today, by Devanlay, and is a rare example of a textile product that has, to a certain degree, escaped the ravages of outsourcing.
A crocodile is not an easy thing to move !