Few people who crack into the pop culture zeitgeist at an early age manage to do so unscathed. One exception to that statement (and there are a few) is Alyssa Milano. Practically an 80s icon, Milano starred on the hit sitcom Who’s the Boss?, and has since gone on to join the casts of more than a few popular American TV series (Charmed, Mistress, etc.). She's also appeared in several films (over 20 by our count) and even--at one point-- tried her hand at a musical career.
But there’s more.
In 2008, Milano launched Touch, a fashion brand that offers stylish pro-sports team apparel for women. Five years later, Bloomberg Business described the company as a “fan-gear fashion empire.” For Milano, who’s blogged for MLB.com, written a book about being a baseball fan, and can regularly be found in stands for games across the sporting world spectrum, the fit made sense.
Enstars recently got the chance to jump on the phone with Milano, just as she was getting ready to do a photoshoot for the NFL’s 2015 women’s apparel campaign. The 42-year-old spoke about her turn as a clothing mogul, if she still has to convince people that she’s really a sports fan and her future acting plans.
Enstars: So I just want to clarify what the photoshoot is for. Is this for your company, the NFL, or both?
Alyssa Milano: It's the NFL women's campaign, but I'm going to be wearing Touch. The women's campaign is basically a platform for all of their women's apparel, which Touch is a part of.
Gotcha. Well, I guess this is kind of interesting for you since you were basically a pioneer of female fan fashion...or however you want to label it, right?
[Laughs] You're trying to connect the dots?
I think I’ve connected the dots. Touch is something that you've been working on for a while now and have really built into something huge.
Yeah. Touch came out seven years ago. Basically it was: I'm a huge a sports fan and I would go to sporting events and go into the team shop and I could never find anything that I would want to wear, that was cute or fashionable or made of quality fabric. And I thought, "If I'm looking for this, surely there are other women that are looking for this." And I have a belief, and I don't care how old or how young you are, if you feel good in something you're going to wear it. And everything the leagues were offering at that time were just boxy or pink. It just didn't celebrate not only being a sports fan, but it didn't celebrate being a woman.
So I pitched my idea to CAA, I think eight years ago now. And MLB had the exclusive for the first year and then in the second year we expanded to the NFL. And I have the licensing for NBA, NHL, NASCAR, sort of across the board now. It's been absolutely amazing seeing the market change in the past seven years.
"My time is so limited, there's nothing I give of myself that I don't really believe in or strive to reach some sort of success with"
(Photo: Grey Group)
So how are the lines looking this year, yours and everyone else’s?
I haven't really seen anything yet from the other lines. Hopefully they've all stepped up a little bit. I'm really proud of our fall 2015 line, which will be out soon, and I hope women love it. But I haven't seen the other stuff yet.
You’ve commented before on having to prove to people that you’re really a sports fan. Is that still the case or do people recognize that as part of who you are at this point?
Yeah, I think it's been accepted now and part of who I am and people understand it. And that was part of the whole thing, to give female sports fans an intelligent voice and say, "Look, we're just as big as fans as the men and we maybe like fashion a little bit more, so could you step it up?" [Laughs]
It seems like fan gear for guys has also become more fashionable. Is that kind of a trickle-down effect from what you’ve been doing?
I think so. I think that the leagues took notice that the line was doing well and then figured out different ways to expanded upon the men's line.
Is the women football fanbase growing or do you think it’s always been there?
I think it's always been there, but I think the leagues are now really really embracing the female fan.
You've been working with the NFL for the past six years, have you noticed a change in the league to make more of an effort to connect with female fans?
Yeah, but I will say I think the NFL has always been good at embracing female fans. I think that even in the beginning they were ahead of the game in that respect. There are more female executives in the NFL than any other league.
You model all the Touch products yourself and I’m a little curious about your reasoning for doing that.
My philosophy was that if I was actually the one in the pictures, there's such a huge e-commerce chunk that if someone went to NFL.com looking for Touch they would know just because it was me in the picture. So it was more of business strategy of wanting to be accessible and recognize which line was mine and which wasn't.
Oh wow! That’s really smart. I thought it was more of a “put your money where your mouth`is” kind of thing.
Yeah. My time is so limited, there's nothing I give of myself that I don't really believe in or strive to reach some sort of success with. So anything that I have my name on, you can be sure that I am working my butt off to try to make it as successful and personal as possible.
Alright, so It would be remiss of me not to ask: Are we going to be seeing you in anything coming up soon or are you taking a break from acting?
Umm, as of right now, because I just had the baby, I'm not acting. I'm hosting Project Runway: All Stars, which is my third season hosting. I'm just kind of looking at my career as how I can maintain being a working mom with the emphasis on the mom part. And doing a TV series right now, where you're working 70-80 hour weeks is just not conducive to being a present mother.