How super fan Alyssa Milano has turned a practical idea into a trendy women’s sportswear brand for enthusiasts from the diamond to the raceway. Since her role as a tween tomboy on the popular 1980s sitcom "Who's the Boss" that characterized her passion for baseball, Alyssa Milano has continued her love for the game, going on as an adult to create a fashion collection for female fans.
Launched in 2007 with a partnership with Major League Baseball, Touch by Alyssa Milano has become a home run brand that is one of the biggest and most influential sports lines for female fans. It has grown from its limited contemporary line with MLB to encompass licensing deals with all the major sports leagues, more than 100 major universities and NASCAR.
Milano's brand has had a major impact on women's sports apparel and it has truly changed the dynamics of the business, creating a benchmark for the sector with a trend-driven range that has expanded far beyond basic tees and hoodies.
While several competitors have entered the women’s sports arena and challenged the brand’s position in the marketplace, Touch continues to grow across all sports. As the hands-on creative designer, spokesperson and fan extraordinaire, Milano, along with partner G-III Apparel Group, is focused on new opportunities that encompass more product categories, retail stores and international expansion.
While spearheading the growth of her sports fashion empire, Milano has also continued a successful acting career. She starred in “Charmed” for eight seasons through 2006, “Mistresses” for two seasons and is currently a host and judge on “Project Runway: All Stars” alongside Isaac Mizrahi, Zana Roberts Rassi and Georgina Chapman. She’s also an author–in 2009, Milano wrote the book Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic, a clear example of how the sport not only influenced her life, but also inspired her to create Touch.
Milano and her husband David Bugliari recently welcomed their second child, Elizabella Dylan, joining 3-year-old brother Milo Thomas, who appears alongside her in her current Touch look book catalog. She will never forget how it all began, whether it’s her acting career, motherhood, passion for baseball, her love of fashion or her dislike of the color pink.
“It was really just a light bulb type moment,” Milano told License! Global, recalling how the Touch collection was conceived. “I was a Los Angeles Dodgers season ticket holder for 10 years, and about eight years ago I was sitting in the stands when I got cold. I went into the stadium shop, but there was nothing to buy. The things that were available were pink and ill-fitting, so I didn’t buy anything because it wasn’t something that I would ever wear again. Then I went back to the stands and looked around and noticed a lot of women wearing pink and I didn’t think they all wanted to be wearing that.”
Soon after, Milano pitched her big fashion idea to her agency, CAA. “They knew it was an interesting idea, but they didn’t know how to get the ball rolling,” she recalls. “Coincidentally, someone in the literary department, who is not even with the agency anymore, had a personal friend at MLB, so he set up a meeting to pitch the idea.”
In turn, MLB connected Milano with former New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks, president of G-III Sports by Carl Banks, and it’s been one winning season after another ever since for Touch. More than seven years later, Touch has grown to become one of the largest licensed brands in women’s sports apparel.
“It was a true collaboration from the beginning,” says Kyle Sanborn, vice president, G-III Apparel Group. “Carl and I met with Alyssa at the MAGIC show and created the brand from scratch.”
“If you walk down the street in New York, you might see some guy wearing a Yankees or Rangers shirt that displays their team, even if they aren’t going to a game, but you would never see a woman wearing a Dodgers t-shirt and going food shopping,” explains Milano. “Everything was so ill-fitting and unfashionable that women didn’t want to be seen in it anywhere else but the stadium.