Blow-Dry Bars, the Great New Thing or Reinventing the Wheel?

Alli Webb’s blow dry bars were born California in 2008: It spawned life as a mobile hairdresser doing blow dries and was eventually crystallised as the brand ‘Drybar’. Gathering a corporate team around it and valued in excess of $50 million in now has over 75 stores in 19 states plus Canada.

Spawning a host of copycats and not withstanding the fact that blow drying is what hair salons have been doing as bread and butter for the last 60 years is quite strange.

As with many fashions that emanate in the USA, they eventually migrate to the UK. Blow dries were fizzling out as recession hit women cut all superfluous non-essentials and did their own blow dries. Now there is a new urgency to be seen to be fashionable, creating a new cool to be super coiffed on a weekly basis accompanied by the obligatory miniature pooch in the handbag.

The model almost works in the UK, the biggest hurdle being we are lucky enough to be awash with talented hair salons up and down the country already doing great blow dries, some have been sharp enough to dedicate a couple of chairs and a couple of juniors and call that their blow dry bar experience. Not quite the same, but this is England. In London the model works quite well, people are cash rich, time poor and it exudes a great feel good factor having a great blow-dry once a week, but which begs the question:

Is there a difference between a £25-£35 blow dry at a blow dry bar V’s a top end salon blow dry at £75-£100?

As a result, there have been an outbreak of clone blow-dry bars some doing an excellent job, averaging a blow-dry at £35 a pop but little other services, maybe a latte and a manicure, its not convincing that these Blow-dry bars will be sustainable long term as all these clients are having cuts and colours (the money) elsewhere.

What it has done is to stop the ever escalating blow dry costs of west end salons to the dizzy heights of charging over £100 for a blow-dry. Savvy well heeled fashionistas can have almost 4 blow-dries for that, so bringing some sanity to the market place for once and creating great value and re-energising a much needed service for all and lets be honest a little bit of fun and feel good but I still think the top salons have the edge, they just need to reign in the cost to within the edge of reason.

Post Author: Martyn Maxey

Martyn Maxey
I started my award-winning career as Young Hairdresser of the Year Great Britain and have not looked back. Since then my credits include Brides, Tatler, Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire, Nina Ricci, Cartier as well as an impressive celebrity client list. Other achievements include having the first own label haircare line in Marks & Spencer, teaching hairdressing for Wella and being a consultant for L’Oréal, Wella, Boots and Procter & Gamble. Founder of the award winning charity The Hair Foundation. Check out my salon www.martynmaxey.com and follow me on social media @martynmaxey.

1 thought on “Blow-Dry Bars, the Great New Thing or Reinventing the Wheel?

    SJ

    (May 10, 2018 - 09:59)

    Martyn,

    Great article. I can vouch for the blow dry only approach working well in London. I own Blow Dry Express and we have 10,000+ repeat clients (plus many one-time tourists) in the three years since start-up. I am not worried about the top west-end salons — they will always charge £100.
    SJ

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