Armando Cabral

Words: Isabel Pinto
Photo: Miguel Ângelo

Luxury shoes and collections that sell out in the world’s most prestigious stores. Twelve years after he formed his company, Armando Cabral says the project has ‘exceeded all expectations’. The brand continues to grow and is ready to embrace new challenges, particularly with the launch of a new range of products for men and women. A charity project is also underway this year, through the creation of the Armando Cabral Foundation to help build and equip schools in his native Guinea Bissau.

Armando Cabral is not ‘just’ the title he won a few years ago when the prestigious North American magazine, Details, named him one of the world’s best models. Nowadays, it is the name of his brand of men’s footwear, and he likes to introduce himself as an ‘entrepreneur’ because he believes the most important part in the creation of his project was his management training at London Metropolitan University.

Armando Cabral was only three years old when he left Guinea Bissau. He grew up in Amadora, and it was with a Portuguese passport that he became an international model. He worked exclusively for Calvin Klein and Dior, then took to the catwalk for Louis Vuitton, Lacoste and Michael Kors among others. He does not deny that his modelling career helped him establish good friendships and contacts in the fashion world that proved very useful to him when he decided to launch his brand. However, ‘my academic training was the key to launching the company and creating the brand. Contacts are important, but only if you know what to do with them’, he said. And you must also have an ‘obsession with and passion for’ shoes, which he admits he has always had.

In 2008 he created his brand and became its ambassador. But he is not the only one. In the United States, where he lives in New York with his family, the actor Hugh Jackman and basketball player Carmelo Anthony wear his shoes. He has 15 shops around the world, from Canada to Saudi Arabia, as well as in Portugal, London and Russia. The Armando Cabral collections have been a big success. ‘I created my brand for men who create their own lifestyles and who demand high-quality products’, he said.

It is a career marked by ‘success’ and of exceeding all initial expectations. ‘It has exceeded my wildest dreams’, he said, adding: ‘I started on my own. I have seen my team grow and our products become popular with celebrities all over the world.’ ‘The challenges faced along the way have helped create a strong identity that has resulted in the brand growing.’ And would you change any of the choices you made along the way? ‘No. It was through the difficulties that we learned to affirm our identity and to position ourselves as a company,’ he replied.

The challenges will continue. There is no shortage of projects. Without giving away any details, Armando Cabral says he is preparing the launch of a new product for men and women.

Another project this year is the Armando Cabral Foundation, which will build and equip schools in Guinea Bissau, the country he was born in 38 years ago. ‘This is a non-profit organization with charitable goals. Part of the price of every pair of Armando Cabral shoes sold will go to the Foundation which will donate this money to an organization that invests in education and educational equipment in Guinea Bissau’, he explained.

So this luxury brand is associated with charitable causes, through the purchase of Armando Cabral shoes.

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