Ling-Su Chinn

LOS ANGELES Malibu specialty retailer Planet Blue’s founder and former creative director Ling-Su Chinn has left the firm as she turns her focus to building a new direct-to-consumer brand.

The line, called Blu Lux, is expected to see the first collection roll out Jan. 30.

“I am incredibly excited to go back to being laser focused on one thing: designing the brand that captures and represents the authenticity of West Coast fashion,” Chinn, who started the business more than 20 years ago, said in an email. “Planet Blue grew to such a size that I spent more time working on the challenges that come with growing into new territories, rather than focusing on the authentic kernel we grew out of. This brand will allow me to return to my roots.”

The women’s ready-to-wear line will have a focus on print-driven wovens and swimwear, Chinn said, going on to describe the design aesthetic as “effortless but sexy.”

“We will be taking what I’ve done in the past to the next level,” she said. “Each collection will be thoughtfully and passionately conceived in small drops and will be designed, sourced and made locally.”

Chinn’s departure is a big move for a company that’s already had a good amount of executive change-ups so far this year.

Former chief executive James Williams parted ways with the firm at the beginning of the year, launching an advisory called JSW/Strategic in February with a focus on the fashion, retail, luxury and digital spaces. The departure ended a 10-year run for Williams at the retailer.

The company in May said Eddie Bromberg, former president of Cotton Citizen and former vice president at James Perse, would take the helm of the business. Bromberg, in a comprehensive interview with WWD, said he’d look to pull a number of levers to keep the business moving forward, including new hires, growing the wholesale business and growing the presence of the company’s Blue Life brand within its own stores or shop-in-shops at other retailers.

Bromberg’s appointment also came with news the company, which has volume north of $40 million, closed on a new round of funding from investment firm Breakwater Management LLC. The firm in 2013 took a minority stake in Planet Blue when it supplied the retailer with a capital infusion.

Bromberg entered a business that includes a fleet of 13 doors, online boutique and portfolio of seven in-house brands sold at more than 330 stores. That latter point is the byproduct of moves Chinn made around the time of the Great Recession when she began designing labels in-house to diversify the business beyond brick-and-mortar.

Planet Blue said a replacement has not yet been named for Chinn at the retailer.

“While I fully acknowledge and understand my financial partner’s right to manage the business differently, ultimately, I could not support the company’s new direction,” Chinn said. “After nurturing, building and keeping the brand relevant and authentic for the past 23 years, coming to the realization that I had to depart was almost like leaving a child. It was gut-wrenching and unimaginably difficult. I leave behind many cherished relationships at PB and wish the company nothing but the best.”