René Lacoste, seven-time Grand Slam tennis champion, invented the polo shirt, right? Er, maybe not.

Sure, it was he who hit upon the idea of replacing the full-sleeved white shirt that tennis players wore with a half-sleeved T-shirt with a collar. (The classic T-shirt is round-necked.)

Lacoste wore his newly-designed T-shirt for the first time at the 1926 US Open championship (video below). And the world-famous brand of polo shirts is, of course, named after him.


But why is it called a polo shirt and not a tennis shirt?

That’s because this particular attire actually comes from a traditional Manipuri game named Sago Kangjei or Pulu.

The pulu is the name of the wooden ball that was used to play the sport with in the 15th century. Babur took it up, and, centuries later, British planters stationed in India warmed up to the game. Later, during British rule, the world’s first polo club was established in Assam in 1833.

In the late 19th century, polo players in India invented the buttoned-down collar to keep it from flapping in the wind. And somewhere down the line, Lacoste discovered it.

The rest, of course, is sartorial history.