Mayan Rajendran is a menswear designer and a visiting lecturer at Cornell University with over a decade of experience in the fashion industry and his brother Ruban is a full stack developer, who together, came up with the vision for a “style calculator” to help men dress better by teaching them what to pair with various basic items of clothing. “Our motto from the beginning has been to create an educational destination so men can learn more about their options when it comes to presenting themselves without feeling like they are going through an intervention or make-over.”
I heard about you guys after I saw an article in Men’s Health talking about how your app went viral on Reddit. Did you do anything on your part to make it viral or was it completely organic?
We just posted it to Reddit to see if our theory around the human insight of “honey, what do I wear with this?” was in fact true. The rest was completely organic. We began to receive emails & messages from people all over the world thanking us for creating twelve70. Some were color-blind, others were curious about menswear – all of them simply wanted to learn more.
Both of you spent 4+ years working on twelve70 – why are you so passionate about it? How did you come up with the name?
The two of us have worked in the fashion industry in some capacity for almost a decade & we found how underrepresented the South Asian community is. Even as one of the fastest-growing demographics here in North America, it wasn’t until recently that we became a targeted demographic. Working in the fashion industry here in New York, I often found myself being discredited due to my ethnicity. The irony is that so much inspiration for the West does in fact come from India when you look at our color palettes, fabrics, and styles – they resonate on so many different levels with people. Ruban and I knew that we had an understanding of fashion and colors early on. This was our way of helping others who may have issues with putting colors and outfits together. I have worked in retail, as a stylist, as a designer, and an educator. This project brought together all of the things I have enjoyed in my career onto one platform, without any fuss or prejudice.
The name comes from an old project I started for my MA Fashion thesis, which saw me traveling around the world to interview different figures in fashion to get a better understanding of what the term “streetwear” meant. Ruban met me in Honolulu, which was the last stop of my journey. A few hours before he arrived, my rental car was broken into and all of my camera equipment was stolen. The name of that project was 1270 because I visited 12 countries in 70 days. I learned a lot about how clothing works as cultural, personal, and individual signifiers within our community. That project fed into this one.
Why is twelve70 different from any fashion-related apps? Why should somebody download it?
I would say we are different because we are not trying to re-invent our user. We’re simply guiding them to make the most of their existing wardrobe. We realized men were not being serviced for a very clear problem. They knew what they liked but didn’t know how to grow from that initial point of interest.
We also created a very simple to use inventory management system when you sign up. It keeps track of your wardrobe without asking you to take photos or surveys. Simply log-in and add items to your DIGITAL CLOSET and click to add all the items you own. You can also keep track of your FAVORITE OUTFITS, plan your week with the CALENDAR, and see what colored items you could purchase that work well with your wardrobe. We have implemented an OCCASION feature to allow you to plan your outfit accordingly. All in all, it takes less than 15 seconds to put a look together.