This Fall, Armando Cabral has returned with a fresh take on his namesake luxury lifestyle brand. It’s been a bit of a hiatus, almost 2-years. Based on his Fall/Winter debut, many are saying it was all worth the wait.
For Armando, as a creator, it was time well spent. As a renowned model, father, CEO, and creative director of his own fashion house, everything was moving forward and in balance, until it wasn’t. First COVID, then lockdown, and the unspeakable event of George Flloyd’s death in 2020 led him to his home in Portugal, to ride out the pandemic. With no phone ringing, no emails, and no travels on the horizon, he was able to rediscover a connection to his heritage and clear his headspace for a creative new approach for his brand.
“I was reading the history of Mali and the great African leader, Mansa Musa. As I got deeper into his story, something suddenly came together in my head. I had always wanted to celebrate the culture of Guinea-Bissau in a collection because that is where I was born. In reading this book, I realized this was something I could do. Something I had to do.”
At the start, Cabral intended to work with African artisans to create fabrics for the Spring and Fall collections. Once he got to designing, he realized there was a deeper connection to his heritage, one that would not be satisfied with a one-off expression.
“It was at this point that Allen Edmonds approached me with a proposal to collaborate. They were looking to express their brand in a more contemporary way and launching with a strong storytelling platform called ‘My Life’s Work.’ They asked if I would be the first feature and they wanted to partner on the product.”
It was at that moment the alignments between the brands and creative energy ramped up. Allen Edmonds, one of the oldest American heritage footwear brands, still making shoes by hand in the United States and ARMANDO CABRAL, crafting footwear by hand in Italy with a fusion of African materials and European shoemaking techniques. There was a time when either brand might look over at the other and consider it competition, not a sibling to share with. However, brands have evolved and both saw the opportunity as a way to lift the industry of finely crafted men’s footwear to a new level.
“I wanted to bring my creativity to the Allen Edmonds brand. I have always admired their shoes and their respect for heritage and craft. I was able to choose the motto boot, one of their classics, and give it an update. I changed some of the details on the stitching and lowered the angle of the strap. It may sound like a small contribution, but we found it to be game-changing.”
With the production of the limited edition motto boot update, Allen Edmonds also agreed to donate 100% of the proceeds to the causes ARMANDO CABRAL is focused on this season: Education in Guinea-Bissau and Black Lives Matter here in the US.
Throughout the partnership, the concept of legacy and craft also played a major creative role in the product line as well as the ‘My Life’s Work’ campaign. For Allen Edmonds, the gravitas of making footwear by hand and celebrating impeccable craft is all part of their heritage. ARMANDO CABRAL behaves the same way, leveraging artisans in Africa and Italy to bring the brand to life. Both felt there was a richness in telling the story of their respective honor for being well-made and preserving their legacy. For Cabral, it was about creativity in design and realizing that perfection cannot be achieved, at least, not for him.
Once the product line had been created, the focus shifted to storytelling. The campaign, the first of its kind for Allen Edmonds was lensed by Cliff Watts, a good friend of Armando’s. With a collection of film, photos, and interviews, ‘My Life’s Work’ came to life on the streets of midtown in the early days of Summer.
“The day on set was inspiring. Everyone was high-energy and ready to come together to bring this vision to life. It’s another layer of our collaboration. One that I am equally proud of.”