The St. Louis Cardinals and Modern Family like to do it in style -- STL Style, that is.
This summer, the baseball team with the best fans and the television show with the biggest audience are turning to a small design and print shop in St. Louis for some of their biggest fashion needs. STL Style owners Jeff and Randy Vines and their team of city-proud designers are on deck to provide winning looks for the Cardinals' "Christmas in July" T-shirt giveaway for the Wednesday, July 23, game and for Modern Family's upcoming baby and toddler line.
"We're thrilled! Sometimes we pinch ourselves," Jeff Vines tells Daily RFT. "We can't believe we'd have this broad of a reach when we started out so many years ago, just the two of us."
Brothers Jeff and Randy Vines already are well known for their irreverent St. Louis T-shirts ("Meet me in St. Louis, bitch!" and "Fo' Chouteau" are popular) and pro-city trinkets, but they've recently expanded the business to include major custom orders such as the Pride shirts for Nordstrom at West County Center and a number of items for Planned Parenthood. The business' work on the St. Louis Cardinals and Modern Family projects is a new level of notoriety, though.
"We have arrived, right? When the Cardinals take notice, we can just retire?" jokes Randy Vines.
The partnership with the St. Louis Cardinals is a match made in Provel heaven. When fans buy a special theme ticket to the July 23 game against the Tampa Bay Rays, they'll receive a limited-edition STL Style-designed T-shirt that features the famous redbird perched atop the Gateway Arch as baseball snow falls down.
"We engaged one of our associate designers, David Alderman, on a really funny, ugly Christmas sweater-themed shirt that [St. Louis Cardinals officials] loved," Jeff Vines tells us.
The brothers tell Daily RFT that Cardinals officials often visit the store on personal time and had contacted the Vines through a mutual friend to discuss a possible partnership. It didn't take long for the STL Style guys to say yes to a project that would outfit thousands of die-hard Cardinals fans.
"It was a no-brainer," Randy Vines says. "It was one we really loved to do and one they really got behind. STL Style and the St. Louis Cardinals -- what's more St. Louis than that?"
"Working with us is not only an investment in a small business, but it's also an investment in the city," Randy Vines adds, noting that the STL Style team will be at the game to watch fans pick up their special shirts. "They know that we trumpet all of the wonderful qualities of the city at every opportunity, so they're playing a part in helping to further that."
On page two, STL Style goes Hollywood!
The Vines brothers also are bringing that indie mentality to ABC's Modern Family. A ratings giant, the Ed O'Neill/Julie Bowen ensemble program is looking to expand its children's clothing line as the show enters its sixth season this fall. Show producers tapped STL Style as an official apparel partner -- but the deal didn't go down in typical Hollywood fashion.
"Our uncle is friends with the wife of one of the creators of that show. They were having lunch or something in New York several months ago, and she mentioned this idea [of the baby/toddler line]," Jeff Vines explains. "Our uncle said, 'You should call my nephews in St. Louis,' thinking it would be a total long shot. But somehow, we got to talking, and I guess we pleased them enough to pique their interest. We just worked our asses off on a great proposal, and it took."
The Vines tell Daily RFT that they'll be printing the Modern Family logo on baby and toddler apparel at the beginning of their partnership, but all parties are looking toward custom designs that perhaps will include famous quotes from the show.
"The show has some longevity and some cachet, and we're happy to be part of it," Jeff Vines says.
Stepping into Hollywood in any fashion delights the brothers, who had gone to college fully expecting to make it among the stars.
"We thought we would go into the entertainment business because of our TV show," Randy Vines explains with a laugh. "When we were younger, we literally had camcorders taped to our hands. We never went anywhere without them, and we have some crazy old videos that preclude us from running for office."
A business that began just as a hobby, STL Style has grown into one of St. Louis' most recognizable brands for fashion and gifts. As the shop has grown by trumpeting the city's assets, the Vines brothers have become national representatives of St. Louis spirit and hope. Planting permanent shop roots on western Cherokee Street, the brothers have been part of a renaissance for the area, drawing customers from the suburbs and beyond to Cherokee Street's unique combination of restaurants and indie businesses.
"We know that any independent business is more than just the product or service you sell -- it's also the people, the personality of the place and the sense of place in your environment, and we're a big part of that," Jeff Vines says. "Cherokee Street is a really unique business district in that everything that's happening here is really organic. It substantiates everything we've always been about, and that's highlighting what makes St. Louis an urban, raw, uninhibited, unfiltered city."
STL Style is working on a coffee-table book about Cherokee Street's rich history, expanding its line of pro-city T-shirt designs, and slapping some city pride on unexpected items such as condom wrappers, boxers and bikinis.
"It's really high quality, very sexy and combines two of the most beautiful things -- the female body and the St. Louis flag," Randy Vines says. "I think we're the only people in the world who can provide that particular product. We rolled it out in late May, and so far they've been selling really well."
No matter what they take on, the brothers will always hold St. Louis in their hearts.
"We have a soft spot for old, bitchy cities with problems. Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh -- the cities that have been beaten down over the years," Jeff Vines says. "We feel like St. Louis falls into that category. We know how special it is and how worth fighting for it is."
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