Planet Blue Malibu

Former Planet Blue chief executive James Williams has launched an advisory firm geared toward the retail and fashion industry after stepping down from Planet Blue earlier this year.

Williams steered the Santa Monica-based retailer, rooted in the Malibu lifestyle and beach-inspired aesthetic, for a decade as it saw the launch of its own lines, growth of the wholesale business, capital infusion from investment firm Breakwater Management LLC and expansion of Planet Blue stores beyond the core Southern California market.

Williams’ firm, JSW/Strategic, is focused on the fashion, retail, luxury and digital spaces.

“After 10 years at [Planet Blue], it was time for a change, personally and professionally,” Williams said. “It is something I had been contemplating and preparing the business for for a couple of years. The company is well-positioned with a strong leadership team and backed by a committed PE firm in Breakwater, so the time just felt right. I retain my board seat and remain engaged with the company as an adviser.”

The search for Williams’ successor continues, with founder Ling-Su Chinn remaining in the president and chief creative officer roles.

The launch of Williams’ practice, he said, brings him back to his roots.

“Prior to PB, I spent 10 years as a lawyer practicing nearly exclusively for fashion and luxury clients, ultimately chairing global apparel practice groups for two preeminent entertainment/new media law firms,” Williams said. “My practice will focus on helping brands reposition for growth and profitability against the backdrop of our new retail order through strategic counseling and full-stack process consulting. In addition to fashion and retail brands, I will be serving investors and real estate/media companies with interests in retail as well as entertainers and artists looking to extend their brand [direct-to-consumer] through merchandising.”

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