Armando at his showroom | All portraits by David Urbanke for Models.com
As a model, moving into the next phase of the career can be a complex process, but with the right combination of talent and tenacity great things happen. With his striking good looks and innate sense of style Armando Cabral has long been a favorite of designers and editors, but that was only the beginning of his story. Combining his business school knowledge and fashion experiences, the enterprising Mr. Cabral has moved behind the camera to craft his eponymous shoe line. Mixing old world craftsmanship with minimal modernism, the line is already garnering raves from men of style and the industry’s leading retailers. MDC caught up with Armando to find out more about the line, its roots and Armando’s plans for NY fashion week.
MDC: The shoes look beautiful! Tell us a little bit about the Armando Cabral line
Armando: We created three concepts to give broader offerings; we have the concept of the sneakers which are contemporary, the hybrid casual where I try to mix the classic and the casual together. We have a brogue wingtip shoe with a sneaker bottom. This is my style, the whole idea of the brand was to reflect on my own personal style and I like to mix elements.
MDC: When did you start getting interested in shoes?
Armando: I’ve always loved shoes and I think that was something I understood for a very long time. In late 2008, early 2009 it was a very difficult time for me. I’d always been close to my mother and she passed away. I thought to myself “How can I change my saddest experience into my greatest asset? I felt like I needed to do something that I love that will give me fulfillment. I decided to combine the two things I love the most – business and fashion. I have a business degree so I decided that putting those two things together was the right thing. I used the business background and my fashion contacts to assemble the best team to help me make this a reality. Our first collection was in Autumn Winter 2010.This is our fourth collection so we’re almost everywhere, we’re in the US at Odin, London’s Dover Street Market, in Paris, France, Portugal, Germany – we’re worldwide!
Versatile shoes from the Spring / Summer 2012 Line
MDC: What are your personal favorites?
Armando: It is hard to say, the brand itself interprets so much of my personal style which is really about minimalist design and a classic approach. The essence is really to mix things in a way that is going to give you a whole lot of range. I try to design in a way that reflects my lifestyle as a model as well. Men don’t tend to carry 50 shoes with them when they travel, you need to have a shoe that can go from a business situation, to a more informal one – something that can work with suit or jeans. I don’t design for fashion – I design for people who are secure in their style and know what they want. One of my favorites are obviously the high tops and espadrilles.
We wanted to do something really cool that had some espadrille approach to it but was still a shoe. I like espadrilles, but a lot of times I don’t like the construction, you wear them a few times and then it looks like you’ve been wearing them for 50 years. This is still a shoe but it is right for summer. I love the material that we use for the sneakers this season, it is a jean suede, it is denim but it is incredibly soft.
MDC: The material on these is amazing – how do you go through the selection process for things like fabric, etc?
Armando: Thank you. I do have a team, the company is based in London but I have a showroom in New York and we do have a team here. I’m always in and out between London and New York. We’re a lot like all the other companies in fashion. We have a design schedule, we go through the process of research and development, finding inspirations and references. We go to Linnea Pelle in Italy. The complex is really big, you spend hours and days searching to find the right materials. I’m thankful to have such a great team, every season they find such amazing leather swatches.
MDC: Now I have to ask – do you have any plans to start making shoes for women?
Armando: That is the question I always get! To be honest with you I like to stick with things that I know. Who knows – eventually one day, but as of now I’m having so much fun doing mens shoes and for now we’ll stick with the men’s shoes.
MDC: Fashion week is just around the corner, will we see you there?
Armando: We’re planning on doing a presentation. The company has been going for three years and since we started in Europe, we’ve done several things there. Since we have a showroom in New York now I thought it would be a great idea to really do something here to introduce people to the brand. We’re inviting people to come along and see the collection and I hope that they’ll enjoy it.
For more on Armando’s line check out Armando Cabral.com