John Stavros (PMP Studios)

John Stavros is the owner of PMP Studios, a New York-based company that has provided production, marketing, and promotions services to businesses for over 25 years.

Born in a small village near Peloponnese in southern Greece, Stavros grew up in an area that was known for developing some of the world’s best olive oil.

While some entrepreneurs achieved enormous wealth due to the boom of the olive oil business, most of the people living near Peloponnese endured financial challenges.

This included Stavros and his family.

“Everyone was poor. There was no money,” Stavros recalls.

“We had to live off the land. This meant catching snails and birds in order to eat. Surviving was pretty tough.”

Stavros also grew up in a war-plagued era where armed soldiers routinely entered the village where he was living.

Sometimes they would bring cheese and powdered milk.

Other times violence and destruction accompanied the soldiers.

Fortunately for Stavros and his family, his mother was born in the United States, and it was her citizenship status that allowed the family to leave Greece and board a plane bound for New York City.

Upon arriving in the world’s most famous metropolis, a young Stavros quickly had to begin learning English, but he says his biggest obstacle was overcoming the frigid temperatures that are prevalent on the western side of the Atlantic.

“I had never seen snow before in my life,” Stavros mentions, but after adjusting to the inconsistent weather he began to find his footing, literally, as a standout soccer player.

Possessing a speed and nose for the ball that few other footballers could match, Stavros eventually netted a scholarship to Long Island University, and during his stint with the Blackbirds he exhibited a goal scoring prowess that would later earn him an induction into the university’s Hall of Fame.

For many, starring for a university soccer team and later turning pro would be considered a tremendous accomplishment, but for as athletically gifted as Stavros was, he always envisioned a future off the field that was just as noteworthy.

That’s why during his playing days Stavros attempted to combine his passion for soccer with his love for fashion, a less-appreciated talent he says was fostered at a young age because his family couldn’t afford to buy new clothing.

“But perhaps the biggest reason I went into fashion was because I couldn’t find clothes that fit me,” Stavros says with a laugh, recounting how his thick thighs made it difficult to find form-fitting pants.  

“I had to start sewing my own pants. I would buy a size bigger and hand-stitch them until they fit.”

Filling a personal need is what led Stavros into fashion, but among industry types he is best remembered today for pioneering the addition of a zipper on the side of pants that made it easy for soccer players and other athletes to shed a layer before entering a game.

Stavros says he came up with the idea for adding a zipper on the side of pants simply for pragmatic purposes, but soon his invention gained traction around the city, and from there, the direction of his career was forever altered.

“Everything changed when that style became fashionable,” Stavros says.

“Years later Adidas did the same thing and that’s how they became famous, but what I did was in 1964, well before anyone even knew who Adidas was.”

Stavros’ intuition may have redefined athletic fashion, but that doesn’t mean his life was inherently easier afterward, especially because the sport of soccer still hadn’t gone mainstream in the United States.

Worse, the United States was still seeking to find its identity, and as a result, there were social and political differences that the country had to navigate.

“I was fighting against racism and prejudice, and it was also thought that you could not be a soccer player and be accepted in fashion,” Stavros explains.

Despite the external challenges awaiting him, Stavros forged ahead, and that resiliency was rewarded when he later ingratiated himself to two of the most recognizable names in New York City fashion, including:

Antonio Lopez, who was, and still is considered to be one of the premier fashion illustrators in the world.

“Antonio also introduced me to Charles James. We called him the master of shape,” Stavros says.

“Those two accepted me as a friend, and through them I went on to become part of that revered fashion community.”

Stavros ultimately enjoyed a lengthy and successful career in fashion, but eventually he transitioned away from the industry.

He still had a deep affinity for high art, so he took the collection of artifacts he had accumulated over the years and opened PMP Studios in Midtown Manhattan on West 37th Street.

Adored by the general public, PMP Studios appealed to those who were touched by the works of iconic artists, including the late Andy Warhol.

And while Stavros was thrilled to curate a museum that positively affected so many, he also wanted PMP Studios to give undiscovered artists a platform that could help them ascend to the level of the greats that preceded them.

His plan worked well, but eventually Stavros grew tired of the demands of the New York City fashion and art scene, so he packed his museum up and moved to Kingston, a quaint town ninety miles north of New York City.

“I bought a building and spent four years developing it, and right now it has become a reality because everyone seems to be wanting to move up to Kingston,” says Stavros, who in addition to his daily responsibilities as a museum owner is also finding time to write his memoirs.

He admits that crafting a novel was never in his life plans, but after countless people encouraged him to share his life story, he felt inspired to undertake a literary pursuit.

“People are very much interested in who I am, and why I am the way that I am,” Stavros says.

For the man who once had a gun pointed at his head in Argentina, and later dated acclaimed actress and model Jerry Hall, the eventual publication of his autobiography promises to be riveting.

Says Stavros:

“The book will be fun. I’m excited to see how it all plays out.” QS

**

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