The company behind the men’s fashion brands Profuomo and Michaelis has already experienced the necessary changes. The current Micro Fashion can be traced back to 1934 and the casualization in men’s fashion has left its mark on the history of the group. The trend of hybrid workwear now ensures that the entire group is rebranded as Profuomo and the company focuses on ‘timeless comfort’. CEO Harry van der Zee and third generation of the family business Sarah Brandsma take FashionUnited along in the development and future of the company.
Today’s Micro Fashion was founded in 1934 by Heinz Michaelis, Sarah Brandsma’s grandfather, as De Nederlandse Dassenfabriek. “For a long time we only produced ties,” says van der Zee in a video call. In addition, the company also produced for major retailers and brands in Europe. “We weren’t working on our own branding at all, it was purely private label.” That changed when Sarah’s father, and son-in-law of Heinz Michaelis, Jan Brandsma came on board. Profuomo was then set up as its own tie brand and the parent company was given the name Micro Fashion. The brand became a success and was sold at De Bijenkorf, among others. “We then operated as a group under the name Micro Fashion, which is a contraction of Michaelis and Rotterdam.”
The Profuomo that many now know arose when Van der Zee was appointed as CEO in 2006. “Dassen, then still our core product, were under quite a bit of pressure. People still went to work in suits, but more and more often without a tie.” When thinking about the future of Micro Fashion and Profuomo, it was decided that the future would lie more with an own brand, not so much with private label production. “If we want to put Profuomo on the map, we have to expand,” it sounded like at the time. At that time, Profuomo switched to shirts, as the brand is now known to many. “We really started with that to give the brand meaning. More identity and grab a piece of the market from our own distribution.” For example, our own stores were opened, a web shop was set up and, above all, we were further expanded with good business partners such as De Bijenkorf and The Society Shop. At the same time, Micro Fashion’s private label business was phased out.
Full focus on Profuomo: Micro Fashion changes name
Now it’s time for a new chapter. A change in the menswear market has been going on for some time, even before the pandemic. Menswear is becoming casual and this transition has been kicked into high gear by the pandemic. Hybrid workwear is what strikes the clock. Even before the corona crisis, Profuomo was therefore busy setting up a total look collection with a focus on ‘timeless comfort’. The pandemic only ensured that this development was accelerated so that Profuomo has the right offer for this demand.
“The moment you choose to build a brand, you go more business to consumer instead of just business to business,” says Van der Zee. “Also with communication. We notice that Profuomo is what we really load, what we are active with on social media and what appeals to a consumer. Not so much Micro Fashion. That’s a name we’ve always used for our retail customers, but for consumers, it never loaded.”
As of December 1, Micro Fashion BV will officially transfer to Profuomo BV Sarah Brandsma, who officially joined the company five years ago as the third generation, calls the change something that has been thought about several times. However, the holding company above the company will still retain the Michaelis family name. “Changing the name from Micro Fashion to Profuomo just gives more clarity. Otherwise there is too much noise,” Brandsma says during a telephone conversation.
The descendant of the generation indicates that the past two years have been tough, but that she has fortunately taken over a company that was well put together. “Every generation has its problems and the pandemic is ours,” she said. Her two brothers are also in the business. One is in product development and the other is currently only a shareholder. The moment the lockdown started last year, the segment in which Profuomo is located took a hit, causing turnover to fall. This effect was still visible throughout 2020, says Van der Zee. As mentioned earlier, the pandemic accelerated the transition at the company. Last August this meant the long-term choice and the loss of 25 jobs, mainly abroad. “It was terrible. You don’t mind that,” says Brandsma. “But certainly now we see that it was the right decision, because the pandemic, as we expected, is still not over.”
Profuomo takes a new direction: Total look and timeless comfort
The new phase for the group, now as Profuomo, means accelerating, according to CEO Van der Zee. The change should ensure even more relevance for the brand. “It is also important for retailers that you are known as a brand, because this also creates more demand for the brand from the partners,” says Van der Zee. A new campaign will therefore be launched for the SS22 season, which will highlight the rebranding of Profuomo. ‘Timeless comfort’, the new direction of the brand, contains several elements, explains the CEO. “The term timeless says everything about the wearing moment. Literally timeless: for work, for a night out and just at home. It is 24/7 and no longer for a specific dressing moment. It also says something about sustainability. The fact that we are a third-generation family business and that we also want to take responsibility for the next generation.” Van der Zee explains that investments have been made in sustainability in the supply chain and that this is certified. The company is also a member of the clothing covenant, which means that it is audited every year. The piece of comfort refers to the investment in comfort. “During the corona time, we sat down a lot more on jerseys, sweats and loungewear. You can also wear it at home.”
The change in style at Profuomo and offering a total look also means that Van der Zee sees more possibilities in distribution. “We can focus much more on the smart casual customer. Today you also see more and more retailers that offer streetwear brands in which luxury is interwoven. Those are brands that we can easily find ourselves in between.” Van der Zee also notices that the brand is now getting a different place in stores. “We used to be really at the shirt department, now we have shops in shops between Samsoe & Samsoe and Les Deux. It is another brand portfolio that surrounds it that is on the smart casual side. That will certainly provide us with opportunities for a different type of retailer.”
As if this were not enough to keep the group busy (the Michaelis brand will also continue to exist purely as a wholesale brand), the group is undergoing a digitization and internationalization process. “We really have a growth scenario, in the breadth of the collection, but also in market development. We are now giving full throttle in Belgium and Germany.” In Germany, the brand has already secured leading retailers and in Belgium Profuomo is looking at opening a flagship store. The combination of the right partners, own retail (“With a limited number of stores”) and a local webshop ensures that the brand is immediately expanded in the countries. “It should complement and reinforce each other”.
All in all, it marks a new chapter for the company. A new name and a new look. If Lyst’s trend forecast for 2022 is to be believed, then Profuomo is definitely on the right track with its focus on hybrid workwear.
Source: fashionunited.nl by fashionunited.nl.
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