PSS Winter '13


A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

by Chris Swingle

Savas Abadsidis ’96

FIRST JOB: Administrative Assistant for an architecture firm

CURRENT JOB: Co-founder, B magazine; founder, XY magazine; editor, Tally Ho!; editor-at-large, Escape Republic

After college, Savas Abadsidis ’96 planned to work in New York City for a year before attending New York University School of Law. Instead, networking and luck took the native of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to the helm of a ground-breaking and controversial publication.

The English major filled in for a vacationing friend at an architecture firm – and was asked to stay on writing press releases. Through that work, he met Sam Shahid, who ran his own advertising agency serving clients such as Versace, Perry Ellis and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Abadsidis became Shahid’s assistant and got to know Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, whose company’s clothes Abadsidis favored and wore to work. Since Abadsidis was in the targeted collegiate age group, Jeffries asked for his opinions, even having him sit in on interviews with potential editors for a planned A&F magazine.

Late one night, the 22-year-old Abadsidis impulsively wrote and faxed to Jeffries a 15-page proposal to lead the combination catalogmagazine himself. He suggested an edgy tone with stories about actors and up-and-coming bands, plus funny graphics. In the morning, Abadsidis questioned his bold move, fearing, “I’m going to get fired.” Yes, his boss was mad. But Jeffries gave him a shot.

Just months out of college, Abadsidis became editor-in-chief of A&F Quarterly and held that post for its seven-year run, an exciting, thrilling “once in a lifetime opportunity” that required a steep learning curve. He had to handle contracts, budgeting and other things he’d never done before. “I felt a lot of pressure, and I made some mistakes,” he admits. But Abadsidis hired smart writers he admired and learned from them, as well as from Shahid, Jeffries and fashion photographer Bruce Weber, “all legends in their fields.”

In those years, with Shahid as the quarterly’s creative director, the A&F brand was transformed into a top specialty fashion label and trendsetter. Abadsidis helped come up with advertising campaigns, scouted new talent and produced content. A&F Quarterly became a marketing phenomenon, growing to hundreds of pages and a circulation of 1.2 million.

But it also faced protests. Alcoholic drink recipes and drinking game instructions in the 1998 back-to-school issue incensed Mothers Against Drunk Driving. A&F pulled remaining copies and sent apology letters to subscribers. Abadsidis says the magazine’s topics were things he and his peers were interested in then. Elected officials in several states, anti-porn feminist groups and conservative groups called for multiple boycotts over the quarterly’s sexually provocative and nude photographs, porn star interviews and sex advice, which Abadsidis maintains weren’t out of line.

All of the publicity “turned out to be a good thing” in the long run, he says. “It put us on the map.” The A&F Quarterly was discontinued in 2003 after the publication of its most controversial issue, whose cover promised “280 pages of moose, ice hockey, chivalry, group sex and more.”

Abadsidis recommends that college graduates seek out potential opportunities, network to learn more and pursue what they love. That’s how he found jobs as executive editor at Complex magazine (designer Marc Ecko’s lifestyle publication) and then west coast editor for Wizard Entertainment.

More recently he co-founded B magazine for gay youth with Peter Ian Cummings, the founder of XY magazine. B is currently producing its fourth issue. He’s also editor of Tally Ho!, an art magazine scheduled to debut this fall, and is an editor-at-large for the Toronto-based Escape Republic travel blog for Preferred Escapes, which rents luxury villas.

The market remains tough though and trying to make anything in print is still an uphill battle. So far, the last couple of years, Abadsidis has ventured into other fields notably marketing, publicity and social media. His clients include and, Little Studio Films, whose upcoming releases Stealing Roses and Ice Scream he worked on, Kickstart Entertainment and Home Plate Entertainment, where he’s had the opportunity to work with legendary animation producer Bill Schultz, whose Wild Grinders has been a breakout hit on Nickelodeon. “At the end of the day, it’s all about constructing a narrative, and if you do that well, you can work across any platform.”

He never did make it to law school.


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