Posted by Jonathan Shia | September 17th, 2021’s Icons:
Armando Cabral Puts His Best Foot Forward for Charity
Back in September 2006, Armando Cabral was backstage getting ready to walk in a Michael Kors show when he found himself inspired by the shoes he was wearing, a pair of spotless Spring Court sneakers that were the perfect finishing touch for his relaxed all-white suit look. Two years later, the industry icon created his own successful eponymous line focused on quality craftsmanship, touches of his own African taste, and an accessible price point. In the wake of last year’s racial turmoil and focused on giving back to his community, Cabral has partnered up with heritage brand Allen Edmonds for a capsule collection that reimagines its history from a contemporary, global perspective. Shot by Xavier Scott Marshall, the icon sits down with men’s contributor Jonathan Shia to speak more of his own brand’s re-launch after a 2 year hiatus and the Allen Edmonds collaboration with 100% proceeds supporting initiatives focused on education in Africa and social justice in America.

Photographer – Xavier Scott Marshall for
Stylist – Roberto Johnson
Grooming – Laramie Glen
Photo Assistant – Issie Carey | Styling Assistant – Mikai Booth
Production – Sasha Grinblat
Interview – Jonathan Shia | Editors – Betty Sze and Irene Ojo-Felix

Above Credit – Suit – Bottega Veneta | Shirt – Models`s Own | Shoes – Armando Cabral

Shirt – Carolina Perez | Trousers – Casablanca | Shoes – Armando Cabral

Already one of the industry’s top faces, Cabral admits that he had become used to working with high-end brands that offered him exposure to a certain caliber of design and craftsmanship that wasn’t immediately available to him in his personal life. “I’ve always had an appreciation for shoes and as a model, I had the opportunity to work with all of these fashion houses and brands, so I developed my own personal taste,” he recalls. “The problem I’ve always had was that I was accustomed to all these high-end shoes, but they were very expensive at the time. When I started modeling, I couldn’t afford them and when I wanted to buy anything, it was really mass-market. There was literally nothing in between at that time.”

Tank – Hanes | Trousers – Bottega Veneta | Shoes – Armando Cabral

Two years later, Cabral, who studied business before being scouted to model, launched his namesake shoe line, dedicated to combining craftsmanship, quality, and touches of his African heritage at a mid-range price point to fill that gap in the market. Over the course of the last decade, he has established himself with his sophisticated and timeless designs, and this month he is set to launch an exclusive collaboration with the storied heritage brand Allen Edmonds, a capsule of several offerings that reimagine its history and tradition from a contemporary, global perspective. “Allen Edmonds, to be very honest with you, is one of the brands that I researched from the beginning,” Cabral says. “It’s a 100-year-old company, they’ve been around for years, and I remember always researching them. They do really great shoes, very well-done stuff, so that was the point of departure for us: How do you take these well-made shoes and update them in a way that mirrors my storytelling, who I am, and my heritage?”

Sweater – LeBrancStudios | Shoes – Armando Cabral

Beyond their shared dedication to craftsmanship and quality, Cabral says the two companies aligned on their larger goals as well. After what he describes as years of informal discussions that never quite fell into place, he explains that this collaboration was born last summer with a focus on effecting change in the wake of the movement for racial justice that swept the world after the police murder of George Floyd. “Armando Cabral does not only want to take from our customers, but we want to be a brand that customers want to participate in,” he adds, “so it was important to have this charitable component.” In a personal touch reflecting both his roots in Guinea-Bissau and his many years in the United States, all proceeds from the moto boots in the collection will be split evenly between organizations in Africa and America. “I have two causes that are important to me, one of which is every year I support children’s education in Africa, in my home country,” he elaborates, “and I felt like it was important, particularly because I also live in New York, I live in America, and my kids are American, I wanted to also contribute here.”

Suit – Bottega Veneta | Shirt – Models`s Own | Shoes – Armando Cabral

As Cabral enters his second decade in business, he says this opportunity to work with Allen Edmonds has once again inspired him to look ahead, both in terms of how he hopes his brand will grow but also to rethink the way it can affect its customers. To that end, he has been inspired to relaunch his eponymous line next week as well, incorporating African textiles for the first time in a nod to his background, including handwoven Kente cloth made in his home country on the continent’s western coast. “This process not only creates beautiful and well-made shoes, it also serves as a global symbol unto itself,” he explains. “My African heritage melds with bespoke European craftsmanship, creating something new and wonderful in the market.”

Sweater – LeBrancStudios | Shoes – Armando Cabral

Looking ahead, Cabral hopes his new vision combining African traditions with European techniques will help him establish a lasting foundation for his brand for a long future to come. “This is the direction that we always wanted to take,” he says. “We wanted to become the 100-year company like Allen Edmonds eventually one day, so it’s important for us to not only take. As a brand, as a company, we depend on our customers in order to maintain our doors open, so how do we contribute to their lives as well? That to me is very important.”

Sweater – Dries Van Noten | Trousers – LeBranc Studios

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