The pandemic has caused scores of people to reexamine their lives and careers, and long-tenured Macy’s executive Durand Guion is one of them.
So after more than 30 years at Macy’s, the vice president of the store’s fashion office will exit his position Friday, WWD has learned. On May 16, he will join Fair Harbor, a growing sustainable swimwear brand, in the newly created role of senior vice president and creative director.
He will work closely with cofounders and siblings Caroline and Jake Danehy as they work to build Fair Harbor into a full lifestyle brand by adding a variety of categories, opening retail stores and expanding its wholesale presence.
In an exclusive interview, Guion characterized his 32-year career at “America’s most iconic department store,” as “outstanding.
“I’ve accomplished so much, but after careful consideration, it was time to start a new chapter. Most people are fortunate enough to find one company that they love, but I plan to double down with Fair Harbor,” he said.
In his new role, Guion will help lead the brand’s growing design, marketing and art direction teams. He will also help shape the vision for how Fair Harbor communicates with its customers, including in the design and creative strategies of the growing company.
Guion joined Macy’s in 1990 as a sales manager of fashion accessories in the Union Square flagship in San Francisco. He was promoted to associate buyer of men’s accessories two years later and spent 14 years as vice president and fashion director of men’s and children’s, working closely with Jeff Gennette, who had been general merchandise manager of menswear for the San Francisco-based division, and who is now chairman and chief executive officer of Macy’s.
Guion relocated to New York and was named head of the fashion office, overseeing both men’s and women’s, in 2018.
Guion said, since he tendered his resignation, there have been “some tears shed” at Macy’s, but he has also received “tremendous support” from his colleagues there as he explained that it was “time to go.”
“The hallmark of a great company is the thoughtful way in which they embrace colleagues, whether they are just joining the organization or deciding to transition into something different, and I can certainly say that Macy’s exemplifies this,” he added.
Macy’s declined to comment on Guion’s departure and its plans for the fashion office.
Guion and the Fair Harbor founders have been close for a decade. He served as a “mentor, friend and cheerleader” to Caroline Danehy when she was still in high school and encouraged her dream of creating a sustainable fashion brand, he said. She created that brand with her brother in 2014.
Last year, the Danehys tapped Guion to create a capsule collection of three styles of men’s swimwear that were inspired by his life and travels.
Although they said that collaboration didn’t lead to this new position, it was successful and sold out quickly.
“I met them more than 10 years ago and developed a bond and relationship, so you can say I’ve been interviewing for this job for 10 years,” Guion said with a chuckle. “It’s been the world’s longest interview process.”
Caroline Danehy said Guion’s mentorship developed into “an incredible working relationship and great rapport that goes beyond those three [swim] trunks.”
She said the creative director role was created especially for Guion and is part of their desire to create “the next American heritage brand.”
In March, Fair Harbor received an undisclosed capital investment from Broad Sky Partners, a private equity firm that partners with middle market business services and consumer companies. The investment marked the brand’s first institutional capital funding. The brand is launching women’s this week and will open its first store, on Prince Street in New York’s SoHo, later this month.“
Durand will help provide leadership, Caroline Danehy said.
“He has been pushing me since we started from a fashion standpoint,” her brother added. “We have huge aspirations for Fair Harbor and his Macy’s insight is incredibly valuable to us.
“We started as a direct-to-consumer business online, but we’re really focused on diversifying through wholesale and building our retail network.”
The brand is carried at Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and some 250 specialty stores but the SoHo store will be the first of several they plan to open, they said, and will be designed as “a beacon of a beach shack.”
Not surprisingly, Guion will have input into that store as well. “I know a thing or two about stores,” he said, adding that he’s eager to provide “expertise and excitement of retailing at a different level.”
“You learn to flex and pivot at retail,” he continued, “and at the end of the day,” those learnings are “critical” in the growth of any brand or business.
In addition to working on the store, Guion will collaborate with Caroline Danehy, who serves as chief creative officer, to expand into other categories.
Both Guion and the Danehys said their long personal relationship eliminated the potential pitfalls of this new role. “Durand knows who we are from a personal and brand standpoint,” Caroline Danehy said.
“It’s that personal piece that allowed me the opportunity to walk away from a storied career,” Guion added. “They know me and I don’t have to reinvent myself.”
Fair Harbor, which was inspired by the Danehys’ childhood spent on Fire Island, started with a goal of reducing plastic waste in the water and on the beach. So far, the brand has recycled more than 27 million bottles.
The brand has been on a growth trajectory since its founding and gross sales last year reached $44.1 million, up from $2.3 million in 2019. It was named the second fastest-growing private company in retail by Inc. 5000 for 2020.