SBD/September 18, 2015/Game Changers

Keep In Touch: Alyssa Milano Discusses Growth Of Her Sports Apparel Line

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Milano said her brand is adding products, including plus size and maternity wear
Actress and entrepreneur Alyssa Milano said that operating like a typical fashion collection is what keeps her women’s branded sports apparel line Touch ahead of the competition. Milano appeared Thursday afternoon at the SportsBusiness Daily/Journal Game Changers Conference at the N.Y. Marriott Marquis and was interviewed by Decades Founder and H by Halston and H Halston Fashion Dir Cameron Silver. Milano said, “We design the line like it’s a fashion line. We look at trends that are on the runway ... and design that far in advance, like a normal fashion collection. So, to me, we’re always staying a step ahead of what these other corporations are doing, as far as fan apparel.” Milano said the inspiration for the line began after an experience at a Dodgers game. “I was cold and I went into the stadium shop to look for a hoody or something, and I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t pink,” Milano said. “And I’m really offended by the pink.” A self-described “huge sports fan,” she said she did not understand why the shop did not offer any women’s apparel in the team’s colors. After realizing there was a niche for women’s sports-branded apparel, Milano pitched the idea to her agency, CAA, and eventually to MLB. “I’ve read for Oliver Stone, I’ve auditioned with Robert DeNiro. ... Meeting with MLB and these six guys was the scariest meeting I’ve ever had in my entire life,” Milano said. After partnering with MLB and linking with G-III Sports to manufacture and distribute the brand, Milano’s idea for a licensed fashion line for fan apparel that was “flattering, and by women, for women,” became a reality. “The line sold out for MLB in the first three weeks,” Milano said. “Because it sold out so fast, in the second year, we had all the other leagues lined up.” The NHL, NFL, NBA, MLS and NASCAR followed suit, making Touch the only female line with a license to all the major leagues.

CHANGING THE MARKET: Milano said that one of the most rewarding things about the experience is seeing how the market has changed since Touch’s debut. Milano: “It’s a market that was always there, was being ignored and we were able to fill that void.” Milano said she accompanied G-III to every stadium to pitch her product. “I went because I didn’t want a salesman representing what this line was all about with the buyers,” she said. “I needed to sit there and tell them how passionate I was about this and how I promised them there were women out there who were going to buy these clothes.” Milano said that the brand is adding products that include plus size, maternity wear and cold-weather accessories. In addition to women’s wear, she would like to see Touch produce a men’s line. “There’s a place for licensed fan apparel to sell in boutiques,” Milano said. “That’s where I’d like to focus men’s on.”
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