Open its MySpace page, and your speakers begin to spout out a familiar “Promiscuous Girl” beat. Suddenly, like a curve ball hit into left field, the famous Tom Hanks line “Are you crying? There’s no crying in baseball,” comes right at you, mixed in with a sultry rendition of “Whatever Lola Wants.”
This is the realm of Vintage Blue, a vintage-inspired sportswear line for women dedicated to producing high-quality, eco-friendly garments, while practicing sustainable business methods and encouraging positive change.
Vintage Blue is currently putting out a line of vintage tees and totes, and holds the exclusive license to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League featured in the film A League of Their Own.
“We have access to their archives from the League,” said Liza Goncalves, 34, the founder of Vintage Blue and Drexel alumna. “We’re really big on the whole women empowerment movement. These women [who played in the AAGPBL] went out and played baseball at a time when everybody thought they belonged in the kitchen. They were strong women who went against the grain and created history. We’re really big on positive, empowering women and want to celebrate them.”
Before she founded Vintage Blue, Goncalves hosted MADD Sports, a series that aired on BET.
“I hated the wardrobe, so I cut up all these cool jerseys. We’d take all the Mitchell & Ness and make them into dresses and tops – wear them on TV,” Goncalves said.
“I stumbled into this whole world. At the time, we did throwbacks for celebrities like J-Lo and Alicia Keys – the price point was too high. A girl’s not dropping $400 on a jersey. That’s when I started researching and found the AAGPBL. Instead of taking men’s jerseys, we have our own professional team. That’s what started the whole ball and niche rolling for Vintage Blue.”
Temple alumna Michelle D’Avella joined Goncalves in the Vintage Blue venture two years later.
“I started working with Liza, and [we] clicked right away,” said D’Avella, 25. “She told me, ‘I have a clothing line. You do graphics. Could you help me out?’ So I started doing fliers for her and thought the idea was really cool. [I] started working with her all the time and eventually became a partner.”
D’Avella opened Goncalves’ eyes to the world of environmentally-friendly clothing and manufacturing.
“I always say [it was like] Vintage Blue gone green,” Goncalves said.
“I was watching a program where a woman’s breast milk was making her baby sick. One of the main chemicals in her body was from the clothes that she was wearing,” Goncalves said. “I remember calling [D’Avella and saying] I don’t want our shirts and our products to contribute to making people sick.”
“I just kept thinking it’s going to be so much harder,” Goncalves said of making eco-friendly clothing.
“All I kept thinking was ‘hemp’ and ‘green,’ and I can’t use leather. It was really difficult for me because I didn’t really know.”
Goncalves’ fears were short-lived. Though she admits it is harder to create toxin-free clothes, she has come to find many options like 100 percent organic fabrics and non-toxic dyes.
Vintage Blue donates 5 percent of its profits to Kiva, an online international company that enables philanthropists to lend money to an entrepreneur in a developing country.
“It’s kind of like we’re helping people just like us, except they are in a developing country and need more assistance,” Goncalves said. “It’s just really, really cool that we could contribute to somebody else’s dreams because so many people helped us to get to where are at.”
Vintage Blue’s Web site incorporates themes from the 1920s through the 1970s as well as a brand documentary.
Matthew D’Avella, a junior BTMM major and D’Avella’s brother, helped create the documentary.
“I [made the] launch video. We did full interviews with an online reality series. The company is starting to take off,” Matthew said. “The shirts and bags are a really good look and extremely high-quality.”
“And you don’t have to love baseball to wear it,” D’Avella said. “The shirts are fun and comfy without being overly sporty.”
Vintage Blue apparel will be available in select Philadelphia boutiques this spring. The line of vintage tees and totes are currently available online at www.vintage-blue.com.
Marilyn D’Angelo can be reached at email@example.com.