Solihull BID


With school prom season drawing to a close one Midlands retailer has revealed some parents splash out more than £600 per child on the annual parties.

The prom has become the highlight of the year for pupils across the region and in addition to lavish gowns and smart suits parents are spending hundreds more on shoes, hairstyling, limousine and even helicopter hire.

The celebrations have become such a cultural phenomenon that prom party styles were a key feature of the first-ever Solihull Fashion Week, which tookplace across the town centre between Thursday, April 21st and Sunday, April 24th with appearances by Strictly Come Dancing star Anton du Beke and London-based celebrity hair stylist Andrew Barton.

A pink fire engine customised for prom parties was parked near the special Style Arena in Mell Square as part of Fashion Week Prom Day.

Fashion Week also shone a light on Solihull's expanding independent retail scene with Brides of Solihull one of the stores involved.

The UK prom business is estimated to be worth at least £80 million each year, according to a survey by hotel chain Holiday Inn.

Brides of Solihull on Warwick Road now stocks over 200 different prom dresses, after seeing a surge in demand in recent years.

Denise Taylor established the company 25 years ago with husband Martin to specialise in designer bridal dresses, but now sells between 150-200 prom gowns each year.

"We started selling the dresses around six years ago. We've gone from around 50 to 200 styles and could easily sell more," said Denise.

"For six months of the year our shop is fifty per cent prom as our new collections are bought in June, ready to be purchased in October.

"Our prices range from £199 to £600. Then you have the shoes, the make-up, the hair, the limousines and, of course, the helicopters!

"Parents start looking for dresses in October right through to the Easter Bank Holiday. The demand is incredible. It's a real phenomenon," added Denise.

The Brides of Solihull team (L-R): Denise Taylor, Alison Ayres, Marina Michele and Mandy Holsworth, store manager for more than 25 years.