Don’t be fooled by the shoes that he’s got. He is still Armando from the block. And he talked to us on the eve of his flagship store opening, in Lisbon.
It was only when a London modeling agency told him “no” three times that Armando Cabral decided to be a model. After all, he had already been approached by other agencies, his family and strangers on the street about a fashion career and couldn’t understand why those people, in particular, were rejecting him. He discovered that his photo book wasn’t good enough. So, he saved money, he research exactly what they were looking for, bought an entire new wardrobe, hired a photographer, rehearsed the poses and went back. He was in.
“I have a way of describing luck. For me, luck isn’t something that falls in your lap. Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity”. He prepared, he created the opportunity, he forged his own luck. Moved to New York, got tired of fashion, and got himself into Wall Street for eight months. He hated it.
By then, he was one of the most successful male models of the industry. His ebony skin, perfect bone structure and a smile that can make you go blind told him that he had the world at his feet. And he listened – literally. “I always loved shoes. At fashion shows, the first thing I did when I arrived was to look at the shoes. I touched them, felt them, asked the designers about them. It turned from hobby to fetish”, and from fetish to work. In 2008, his mother died, he knew he had to turn his life around. To make her proud, to make himself proud: “Why not design the shoes I always wanted?”. He put himself somewhere between the role of the consumer, the fashion expert and the business degree man. Armando Cabral was born. Seven years later, with one flagship store in Kuwait (and 45 selling points in 18 different countries”, Cabral returned.
“Portugal still gives me so much. I grew up here, my family lives here, I have a house here. (…) I didn’t just open this store (at Embaixada, Principe Real) for sentimental reasons, but also because Portugal is a strategical link to Europe and Africa”.
As the brand grows, Armando Cabral is still de same man. “When I left Portugal to study in London, I worked at a factory. It was one of my first jobs. I was so happy because I started making my own money. When I was in New York and first thought of launching a brand, I remembered the man that owned the factory I had worked in, that never met me – and maybe never will – and I don’t even know what led him to build his company, but he gave a job to a kid that came from Amadora. He gave him the opportunity to pay his bills, to save money. If he knew what he did for me then, he would now know how thankful I am. If I can do the same, or more, for somebody else, my work in this world is done”.