Welcome to the Sthenos Concrete Jungle
As an artist, personal trainer, fitness model and figure competitor, it was only natural that Johanna Stavrakaki would gravitate toward starting her own activewear line after she moved from Canada to Los Angeles in 2015.
As a new resident, Stavrakaki embraced the city’s gritty beauty, channeling it into her art and funneling it into her activewear brand, called Sthenos, which is Greek for strength and a nod to the designer’s Greek heritage.
“The brand combines my passion for art and fitness,” the Ottawa native said. “Production brought me to Los Angeles. Everything is produced here in LA. It’s diverse and the perfect place for my brand.”
From Stavrakaki’s artistic inspiration to her manufacturing and fabric partners, the Sthenos brand is developed in a downtown showroom where three employees work. Using only high-end and sustainably sourced fabrics such as those created from bamboo, Stavrakaki works with fabric supplier Sportek International in Commerce, Calif., to incorporate materials that will complement her artwork when it is applied to activewear. For Stavrakaki, dressing customers in her activewear is another step in the artistic process.
“Being an artist is in my blood; it’s what I do,” she said. “At one point I was competing and doing competitions. You sculpt your body like a sculpture. Your body is your canvas.”
For her “Concrete Jungle” collection, launching at the end of July, Stavrakaki delves into her adopted city’s past, mining the culture of LA’s punk scene and the evolution of its graffiti, which served as inspiration for her latest activewear pieces. “Downtown is a concrete jungle,” she said. “I still find it difficult to navigate, and I think it fit as a collection title.”
The fitness expert turned designer has always loved rock and punk music, which she considers her thing. “It’s very colorful and fun,” she said. “I think it works really well with what I was trying to go for. Also, I wanted to create a collection that showed my transition to LA.”
While Stavrakaki’s designs are created from her hand-painted and sketched artwork, she also incorporates current trends. “I noticed a lot of ’80s-style prints and abstract designs were coming back, so I thought this was the perfect time to create this kind of artwork,” she explained. “It’s still very much my own entirely, but I want it to stay in the trending calendar of what’s hot right now.”
Stavrakaki’s studies in painting and drawing for her fine-arts degree in New York and an appreciation for Los Angeles’ passion for fitness-apparel design come together in the brand’s details. A graffiti-style “JS” appears on a sports bra from the “Concrete Jungle” line and the campaign was shot atop buildings showing off the city’s skyline.
The Sthenos formula of using quality fabrics and unique prints makes an attractive combination for activewear retailers such as Laguna Activewear.
“We have a cutting-edge activewear store in Laguna Beach that we are trying to turn into a lifestyle store. It [Sthenos] is not only true activewear, but it’s where fashion meets fitness,” said Gila Leibovitch, the owner of Laguna Activewear. “Those fabrics are always ahead of everyone else. The prints are very exciting.”
When the “Concrete Jungle” launches this summer, the 12-piece collection will include a jacket, bottoms, sports bras, short-sleeved tops and long-sleeved shirts. Priced at $30 to $100 wholesale, the line is sold through select retail partners and online at www.sthenos.com.