Street Style Inspiration Served Daily
What happens when two professional women leave top-tier careers to create an app that combines Polyvore with Pinterest? If Anisha Bhasin Mukherjee and Shradha Mehta are any example, they end up working with Gigi Hadid and helping men pick clothing with Sports Illustrated.
Story by Chris Collie, NY Senior Editorial Director
The holidays usually mean a time of joy among loved ones and cheerful gathering to celebrate a special occasion. On a particular winter evening in New York — with only a few days left before Christmas — the fashion community came together once again for a special collaboration between Tommy Hilfiger and GQ for some fashion cheer, a sneak peek of GQ selected Tommy Hilfiger pieces from the winter collection, along with some holiday special treatment.
After receiving an amazing shoe shine on the second floor of the flagship 5th Ave. Tommy Hilfiger store, I was stepping down from the chair and was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a beautiful vintage cream and tan blazer.
I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a beautiful vintage cream and tan blazer.
Being the lover of vintage pieces paired correctly in an outfit, I had to find out the style aesthetic of the woman wearing it. After exchanging business cards and pleasantries, I realized I was speaking to the owner of one of the fastest growing fashion apps, Dress For The Day. After briefly discussing our viewpoints on the fashion industry, the state of New York Fashion Week and delving more into the workings of her app, I knew FWO’s readers needed to learn more about this revolutionary app and the journey of its owners.
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In the following days we communicated back and forth through several emails, which led to a full interview at their beautiful Midtown Manhattan home office. Before reading the full interview of these two amazing women — who left their prominent careers to devote 100% of their time and effort to this app — read below some quick notes about Dress for the Day App.
Picture Polyvore and Pinterest wrapped into one user-friendly site and app, which takes the street style of what everyday people are wearing and breaks it down by each garment ready for individual purchasing.
Picture Polyvore and Pinterest wrapped into one user-friendly site and app.
Dress for the Day recently inked a deal with Sports Illustrated to facilitate questions from users on what to wear for different occasions, and the effective art of dressing to fit your personality and style.
Q: Thank you for having me in your beautiful Midtown home office; would you introduce yourselves to our readers?
ANISHA: Sure, it’s our pleasure! My name is Anisha Bhasin Mukherjee … a lot of names (laughing). I just got married, so have to throw that last name in there
SHRADHA: … and my name is Shradha Mehta.
Q: So let’s start at the beginning: what inspired to even pursue fashion? Was it something you both took to in college?
ANISHA: I’ll let you start (referring to her partner and co-founder Shradha), since you actually did have the fashion background.
SHRADHA: Ok, I went to Parson’s School of Design and double majored in Design and Management; I have a business degree specifically catered to design industries. So after college, I worked with the Luxottica Group manufacturing eyewear, and then I oversaw global product management for Tory Burch eyewear, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, etc. Then I moved over to marketing and oversaw some more brands, where I added Miu Miu to my portfolio.
Fashion has always been something I knew wanted to get involved in; I did F.I.T. classes in high school, and I knew that was the route I wanted to take. With college, I really narrowed in on my skill set in terms of bridging creatives and business in a work environment; that’s kind of what the double major was for, and that’s how I pursued my career with Luxottica. It was, I want to say … my second or third year in at Luxottica when we decided to launch this company, and then we went full time about a year and a half after we launched.
We went full time about a year and a half after we launched.
ANISHA: And we’ll get to the fun little story about how it actually came to be. (Laughing) So, I did not have any of the fashion background by trade, but unfortunately my wallet will tell you I did by passion. (Laughing) So, I went to NYU undergrad and studied politics there, and then I went to law school at Fordham straight after that.
So I practiced law for four years within the music industry. I worked in-house at a music publishing company: we represented all the kings and queens of the jazz era, Billie Holiday, etc.; it was nice. We basically went against all the big labels who were underpaying royalties and negotiated their contracts, making everything current with Pandora and Spotify; making sure everyone was getting paid what they were supposed to.
I practiced law for four years within the music industry.
I loved it, and the music industry was exciting; it was glamorous; I loved fighting for the little guy against the big guy. BUT, something bigger and better came our way (smiles at her partner). Shradha and I have known each other for about 10 years. We met through a mutual friend. So we’ve known each other since we lived in Manhattan.
We hadn’t seen each other in a long time, and Shradha emailed me and said let’s go to dinner and catch up. So this was about two and half years ago, almost three years ago now which is crazy …
SHRADHA: Yeah (pondering), it was … maybe a little bit longer…
ANISHA: We both were happy with our 9-5 jobs, but I can’t say we were extremely passionate, and knew that that was going to be our calling for the rest of our lives. So we were just talking about all the different social events we had: weddings; baby showers; interviews. And it was just so frustrating trying to figure out what to wear with all of the complicated style boards and websites. We just wanted a quick, easy solution: What do I wear factoring in the weather, my budget, occasion, and my personal style? This exists in 10, 20 different platforms. So why can’t it exist in one? So we said to ourselves, let’s make it!
We just wanted a quick, easy solution: What do I wear factoring in the weather, my budget, occasion, and my personal style?
SHRADHA: We were literally outdoors at a little café during Labor Day weekend, caught up on drinks and all these amazing people were walking by us on the street, and we were like: “That’s the jacket I want; those are the shoes I want” … and it was really the everyday women that were inspiring us while we were outdoors. And that’s kind of how it came about: take bits and pieces off what’s walking around. How do I splurge on my shoes and go conservative on my shirt?
It was really the everyday women that were inspiring us.
ANISHA: I think that was a big thing: as lovers of fashion, we like to combine fast fashion with luxury. I think that’s the best way to do it.
SHRADHA: I mean honestly, who wears head-to-toe Chanel? Even Karl Lagerfeld doesn’t like that. (laughing) It’s nice to show off your personality with fashion: it doesn’t have to be designer labels everywhere. Of course you have your favorites, but it’s okay to mix it up.
We like to combine fast fashion with luxury. I mean honestly, who wears head-to-toe Chanel?
ANISHA: So that was how the brainchild came to. But of course, we still had our full-time jobs. We still were like, “How are we going to pull this off?” We basically wrote off our social lives for about a year. I basically would go to Shradha’s apartment every day, and on weekends, it was work, work, work. We wire-framed the design and the concept, but unfortunately we are not girls who code, so we needed an awesome tech team to back us up. So we connected with a fantastic team out of Miami and built the site together over the next six to eight months for it to take the shape visually that we desired.
We basically wrote off our social lives for about a year.
SHRADHA: We originally launched it just for women, because that was our demographic and our market. We selfishly created it because we needed it, our friends needed it, their friends needed it, and we did all our research, and we did our M.V.P. — Minimum Viable Product — tested the viable product out and they all needed it. They wanted the simple resource for figuring out, “What do I wear to the black tie wedding, or to meet the parents, or if I’m sort of conservative but I don’t like spending a lot of money and it’s going to be 55 degrees?” So that was basically what we created for them. We started out working with bloggers, especially up-and-coming ones so we could help get the word out about them.
What do I wear to the wedding, or to meet the parents … if it’s 55 degrees
Q: What sets you apart from other fashion apps out there?
SHRADHA: Well, involving the fashion bloggers. We would take their street style, break it down head to toe, and then we would hand-curate … and we still do, to this day!
So one thing that sets us apart from our competitors is that we use no automated scraping tools. If you’re looking for a particular black handbag, we’ll go to twenty different retailers and hand select those black handbags.
100% curate: it is actually someone acting as a stylist for you and picking out the right products; it’s not like a tool where it says “black handbag looks like this” and then everything in Google images is now on the site. We don’t believe in that; our users do see there is relevance in the product along with the street style. It is not coordinated results of handbags that might be different shapes and sizes.
We hand-curate everything. We use no automated scraping tools. It is actually someone acting as a stylist for you.
ANISHA: Fashion should be about the human touch. As much as we want to bring things current and make it digital, there are some things that should be done by humans. The curating, we felt, no matter how labor intensive it was, or how much time it was going to take away from maybe pursuing other things, that was the one thing that we wanted to stay constant; we hand-select all the pieces.
We tag each street style for different occasions: like is this appropriate for work, for everyday, for brunch, or for the movies. Then we classify them by personal style … so we have about 5 personal styles for women. So all the tagging is done on our backend, which is also very user-friendly and that is something the tech team custom built.
Fashion should be about the human touch. We hand-select all the pieces.
Q: With the site and app being user friendly, how has that thought process shifted in working with bloggers and street style?
SHRADHA: We quickly realized some of the bloggers’ styles were unrealistic for our users, so we shifted our process to encompass all sizes and styles. Now if a blogger would like to upload their street style, that is how they exist in our realm for the most part; it’s not us going, “oh sure you’re a famous blogger, and we’re going to put you on our site.” Even some of the models and big names we have, such as Gigi Hadid along with our partners Sports Illustrated … they all know they’re being featured on Dress for the Day, instead of us using a picture we just found on Google.
Even some of the models and big names we have, such as Gigi Hadid … know they’re being featured on Dress for the Day.
ANISHA: Another thing with the fashion bloggers is that it has become so contrived. Obviously they’re getting paid to wear certain designers, and so it’s not as organic as what we wanted — as opposed to just snapping pictures outside, which is one hundred percent organic.
As Shradha mentioned, some of the big-name models that we do have on our site, those are completely done with the intention that is going to live on Dress for the Day.
That’s sort of what we want to do with the guys and especially with Sports Illustrated, because of the athletes. We want to take advantage and capitalize on the overlap of male athletes in fashion. They love fashion and some publications will do a cover of the athlete once in a while, but why can’t it be a constant thing?
So that’s what we’re doing with Sports Illustrated: we’re making fashion an everyday topic for guys, and also the stigma attached to men in fashion. It used to be something that they were so private about: they felt shy about being so into fashion, and now it’s like: if you want to talk about your new fancy fancy pocketsquare (referring to my Sebastian Cruz Couture pocketsquare), there’s no shame. It’s like do it! They’re proud and happy to do it.
With Sports Illustrated, we’re making fashion an everyday topic for guys.
Q: It’s funny you mention that, because I remember watching basketball games in the ’80s and ’90s, and there would never be a mention of the clothing, or footage of the players walking into the arena, as there is today. Today, because of the increase in attention to men’s fashion, it’s now routine to see the networks showing the NBA athletes walking into the arena … that walk is now like their runway.
ANISHA: Exactly! And think about the NFL draft: there’s so much “who’s wearing what” … it’s insane.
Think about the NFL draft: there’s so much “who’s wearing what”.
Q: How do you think street style changed the fashion industry in the sense of New York Fashion Week, and in the digital imprint structure of publications, since so many print versions are shutting down?
ANISHA: I think it’s everywhere now, street style. I don’t care if you’re out doing your errands or walking to a fancy cocktail party … what you’re wearing in New York City to some degree is always going to represent what your personality is that day; what you’re feeling; what your mindset is. So it’s not just about what you have on; it’s always about you, and not just the surface.
The overlap of personality mixed with street style is something that I appreciate. People love talking about what they’re wearing, like “why I wore these pants,” or “why did I choose to wear this sweatshirt,” and not really care because I’m wearing these great sneakers and it compensates for the rest of the outfit. So it’s really great to get into that second layer of why you’re wearing what you’re wearing.
It’s really great to get into that second layer of why you’re wearing what you’re wearing.
SHRADHA: If you think about the fashion capitals of the world — Paris, Milan, and New York — just think of New York Fashion Week. Think how many photos are taken of street style. These three locations focus just as much on “off the runway” as they do “on the runway.” And when you look at these three locations it’s no longer celebrity endorsements: it’s that woman who is walking down the street, and you caught a glimpse of her in her great camel wool coat draping off her shoulders: it’s like, that’s it, everyone’s doing it. There’s an inspirational factor that you can’t see in a print ad: it’s not posed, it’s not created … it’s instant. You can post it now and have people start looking for it instantly.
There’s an inspirational factor that you can’t see in a print ad: it’s not posed, it’s not created … it’s instant.
Q: What have you found since developing the site and app that has surprised you?
SHRADHA: We spent a week with about 25-30 swimsuit models and became besties with everyone; they were so great and so fun. We did red carpet events with them and we did a whole Q&A fashion. With Gigi Hadid, I remember asking her, “What is your must-have winter accessory,” or “What’s your go-to?” She responded, “Jeans and a white t-shirt.”
She said, “I have to wear other things because I’m on the red carpet, but if it were me, the white t-shirt is so undersold. I just want to wear a white t-shirt, a cool beanie, and jeans.”
That’s what she walks in wearing to these things, and then everyone dolls her up and she’s in this amazing skin-tight cutout black dress. But behind shut doors, she’s just like us. And that was what all these models kept saying to us. It was so refreshing.
Gigi Hadid told me her go-to was “jeans and a white t-shirt.”
Q: In regard to your decision to go full time with the business, was it the possible return on investment leaning you that way, or was it a complete leap of faith?
ANISHA: It was a little of both. We both feel it was the best decision we could’ve made.
Q: If there was a small business or retailer reading this, how would they go about contacting you to have their products or clothing featured on your site or app?
DFTD: They can send an email to us at email@example.com, or they can send a direct message via Instagram. And we of course will go check out their product, and make sure it’s a great fit. If they do have a mom-and-pop brick and mortar, we’d love to test out the product physically and make sure it’s the right fit for us.
More or less, we don’t discriminate when it comes to fashion, and that’s the best part of Dress for the Day. Whether you’re doing a fast fashion $20 tee shirt or the luxury handbag for $3,000, we cover both sides of the spectrum.
So in regard to price point, there is no discrimination whatsoever. We just want to make sure it’s an exciting product that our users are going to be happy to discover. We don’t everyone to be wearing the same J. Crew dress or the same jeans. Let’s have a little bit of uniqueness. So after this, we will then send them a proposal and go through the steps after that to secure a relationship in whatever form both parties see fit.
Q: In wrapping up, I’m going to do a lightning round with you both, some random questions that you answer with the first thought that comes to your mind. This gives our viewers a fun way of knowing more about you.
DFTD: No problem! This should be fun.
Q: First, dress or pants?
A & S (In unison): Dress. (chuckle)
Q: The funny part is, you both wore pants for this interview. (We all laugh at the irony.) Ice cream or coffee?
SHRADHA: Ice cream.
Q: Driving or flying?
Q: A ball game or the opera?
DFTD: Ball game. (in unison)
Q: Champagne or hard liquor?
DFTD: Champagne! (They both laugh.)
Q: Street style for men or street style for women?
SHRADHA: Yes! Men have been tearing it up! We have had an overload of street style from guys. Either them sending pictures in or our interns out taking pictures. The men are doing great! Let’s be honest: if a cute girl or sexy woman comes up to you to ask you to take a pic and discuss your outfit, not a lot of men are going to say no. (Laugh)
Men have been tearing it up! We have had an overload of street style from guys.
Q: Lastly, is there anything we haven’t discussed that you want out readers to know?
DFTD: Working with our non-profit, we have a partnership with Women’s Alliance which is actually now the Coalition for Men and Women. Basically they help men and women who have suffered economical adversity get back into the workforce. They do interview training, résumé training and — where we come in — we help dress them for interviews. That’s something that’s really important to us.
We do events with them twice a year, and we have a big one coming up in March. Bottomless Closet is the New York City hub, and we do Q&A, answer the audience’s questions about what they would wear to the interviews, what they should wear to work, and then we offer them advice and solutions.
These are women who are ready to work, and ready to change their lives, and we want to do everything we can to help them. We love helping them; you have to pay your blessings forward. These women and men are the real thing, and we love it.
We love helping them; you have to pay your blessings forward.
One more thing, on our app we have a fashion forum where you can post pictures, texts, and get the entire fashion community’s advice on what you want. We love having our users communicating with each other. We do not want to be a “fashion social app,” but we are so happy that our users are able to communicate.
Q: Wow, I must say, your site and app both pack a great punch for a fashion enthusiast or professional. I truly thank you for taking the time to speak with me and being so gracious. Your Midtown home office is beautiful! Thank you both!
Learn more about the app at DressForTheDay.com.