Arbitrage: Pre-Med Students Grow their Friendship as they Grow their Fashion Brand

The founders of Arbitrage always heard the advice ‘don’t go into business with friends.’ However, from their experience they suggest the opposite:

“Try to do business with friends.” – Jasmanet Chahal, Curator

A group of six University of Virginia undergraduates, most of whom are pre-med, started Arbitrage as an asset to put on their medical school application. Now, a year later, the business has become so much more. Their friendships have developed with Arbitrage since the six are in constant contact with one another, whether they’re talking about the business or sending each other memes. 

Their venture arose from the notion that college apparel is commodified, boring, and expensive. They wondered… can the status quo be changed?  Was there a way to give college students unique apparel that had meaning?

The founders all share a commonality of their passion for streetwear and fashion. Although when asked if they would consider themselves fashionable, laughter burst out on Zoom. One of the founders (I’ll keep his identity anonymous) was called out as the only exception.

To address this issue college students were facing, Mihir Tandon, Inventory Specialist, sought out to see if they could at least sell our own clothes?  Thirty minutes after posting a pair of khaki shorts on Instagram, the first item of Arbitrage was sold. Then, the account UVAthrift was born and the founders had a resale business. The Instagram page cultivated attention; even UVA celebrity Jack Salt caught on to their growth. The New Zealand native and now former UVA basketball player asked if the account would sell some of his items, including a signed UVA athlete Nike backpack. Currently, Arbitrage is a retailer of specialty clothing items many of which are styles worn by influencers and celebrities such as Travis Scott and Drake.

The founders determined the solution for this marketplace: one-of-a-kind, affordable apparel for college students. As Arbitrage grew at UVA, the company branched out to local colleges including James Madison University and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Come this fall Arbitrage will launch their own line of clothes. UVA will be the first university Arbitrage focuses on to produce unique clothing that will incorporate the student experience at UVA. Having ‘on the Grounds’ insight will allow the founders to create pieces that bring in the subtleties and culture college students can relate to and identify with. Each clothing article will encompass a story, bringing meaning to the fabric. 

As Arbitrage evolves, their values stay focused on providing convenience, affordability, and sustainability. When it comes down to selecting which items to sell and produce, the founders make it personal - “If we wouldn’t wear it, we’re not going to sell it.”

The founders are willing and able to adapt, shift, and grow with Arbitrage. Who would’ve thought an organic chemistry class would bring together a team that would soon create a fashion brand?

Arbitrage is ready to expand into the number one retailer for college clothing, so the question is:

“You want this sick shirt?” – Elie Bashkow, Live Stream Executive

Arbitrage's Website