Last Updated 28 Jan 2021

Vivienne Westwood

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Introduction: We are here today because we have been asked to conduct a strategic analysis of the Vivienne Westwood Company and to provide our expertise regarding the strategic direction of the company. We will be presenting you with our findings and our recommendations for a possible change in strategy from which we believe the company can benefit.

As you are aware, the Vivienne Westwood Company is a widely successful fashion brand, with a yearly revenue of over £20m. The brand is considered to be highly influential and has for decades continued to produce unique fashions, whether it be the highly influential punk style of the 70s for which the brand is renowned or other signature styles.

Issues with company: However based on our research, the most significant issue that we have identified with the company is that it needs to expand into a mass market in order to compete with growing competition and other brands in the industry. Vivienne Westwood caters to a smaller, more secular market and this may put the company at risk amongst growing competition, particularly from high-street retailers.

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Analysis of theory: To provide you with an analysis and an explanation of our strategic recommendations we have decided to use Johnson’s cultural web theory. We think that this theory is most suitable as it examines organisational culture in two ways, by looking at how it is currently, and how we want it to be in the future. This theory is also suitable as it will help to highlight the strengths of the current culture of the company as well as the factors that are limiting strategic change.

The cultural web theory dictates that there are six interrelated elements that together form what is known as a paradigm. This paradigm can in essence be viewed as the working environment. When each of these individual elements are analysed, the various aspects of a company become more clear.

The six elements of the cultural web include; stories and myths, which tell us about the way a company is and the reputation it has based on the stories that have helped it to create its culture. The rituals and routines that take place within the company, power structures i.e. who ultimately has control over the company, control systems, which refers to the areas of the company that may be tightly controlled, for example costs. Organisational structures, which is the way the company operates internally, and symbols, for example logos and imagery associated with the company.

Theory in relation to the company: For the Vivienne Westwood company there are three specific areas of the theory that we have decided are most applicable and are at the moment preventing it from moving into a mass market. These include; stories, power structures and organisational structure.

For Vivienne Westwood stories about the company include some of the following notable events;

When the famous rock band, The Sex Pistols, had their first major performance, they wore clothing designed by Vivienne Westwood. This was significant because it meant that Vivienne Westwood had made a firm connection with the rock world, and established a clothing model among the punk-scene.

The company has cooperated with film producers. For example, in the Japanese film, ‘NANA,’ the main character’s favourite brand is Vivienne Westwood.The widely-recognized orb logo that is associated with the brand can be seen in almost every piece of clothing that Nana wears in the film which expanded the brand’s popularity as well as opened a new door of Asian markets for Vivienne Westwood.

The company has always focused heavily on corporate social responsibility. It has cooperated with the rainforest fund, which Vivienne Westwood personally invested £1m to, and launched a fund-raising campaign to support Cool Earth, a U.K.-based charity that aims to stop the destruction of rainforests by working with the local communities who live there. The campaign, called No Fun Being Extinct, aimed to raise 7 million pounds to secure three rainforests, which shows us a lot about the company’s awareness of sustained resources and environment protection.

Besides its signature punk-style designs, Vivienne Westwood has also created formal designs such as the Red Carpet collection which was launched in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee last year. Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, wore one of her dresses to Royal Ascot in 2009. This gives us a clear indication of the audience that the company caters to.

Power structures- Now moving on to power structures. For the Vivienne Westwood company, being the designer, founder and creative head of the organisation, Dame Vivienne Westwood herself is the most important power structure and holds almost complete control of the company. She also has the most influence over all major decisions that the company makes as you can see for example from some of the stories previously discussed. She is also known for being a political activist, often using her designs in collaboration with her activism, for example the shirts that she designed in 2005 for the British civil rights group, Liberty, which read “I am not a terrorist, please do not arrest me.”

Organisational structure: The organisational structure of the Vivienne Westwood Company is that it is hierarchical, with Vivienne herself at the top, being the designer and creative head. Under her will be those such as retail manager, merchandise manager and head of marketing, and under them will be the creative pattern cutter, head of various departments, etc.

Vivienne Westwood essay

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