Student-run apparel shop Wildcat Vintage opens for business

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Photo courtesy of Varoon Enjeti

Most of Wildcat Vintage founder Varoon Enjeti’s inventory features oversized sweatshirts — a trend he said is “linear” across all college students’ styles — priced between $45 and $60.

Charlotte Ehrlich, Assistant Campus Editor

Walking down Sheridan Road, pedestrians can count on one consistent sight: student after student decked out in Northwestern apparel.

Students have several options for purchasing new merchandise, including the bookstore in Norris University Center or the Campus Gear store on Sherman Avenue. But there are few locations where they can purchase authentic, old merchandise. 

Now, the brand new Wildcat Vintage is filling that niche. The student-run store is an online one-stop shop for authentic NU attire, and it’s gaining traction fast, with the store’s first drop on Sept. 1 selling out within an hour.  

Weinberg sophomore Varoon Enjeti founded the startup over the summer before coming to the University in the fall as a transfer student. Wildcat Vintage’s Instagram page has grown particularly popular, gaining nearly 450 followers since July. Enjeti said his vision for the account is to embed posts featuring new pieces he’s selling among historical images capturing NU’s athletic victories and significant cultural moments.

“This brand is not geared toward just one person,” Enjeti said. “I don’t want people to feel like if they’re not into sports, they can’t purchase the merch. We do have posts about history and cultural things around campus. This is for anyone and everyone.”

Enjeti’s inventory features a wide selection of oversized sweatshirts — a trend he said is “linear” across all college students’ styles — priced between $45 and $60.

He also prioritizes sourcing high-quality secondhand pieces and always checks the tags on clothing before deciding to sell them for authenticity purposes. Any piece that’s not in perfect condition is accompanied on the website by a disclaimer disclosing its defects.

Weinberg sophomore Jonathan Mazor purchased a piece from Enjeti’s first drop and said he appreciated the fair price for the quality item he received. 

“The sweater I got mentioned how the inside lost a lot of fluff,” Mazor said. “They’re super upfront about that, and they’re very committed to transparency, which is great to know.”

Mazor said he found Wildcat Vintage on a Reddit page while doing research about NU before arriving as a transfer student. A fan of buying secondhand, he signed up for notifications for the Sept. 1 drop.

At 7 p.m. that day, Mazor said he found a piece he liked and reserved it. Wildcat Vintage then reached out to him via email for payment and shipping options. Mazor got lucky: he was among the select few to reserve a piece before the sellout.

“I’m not surprised it sold out — today’s generation is super into vintage,” Mazor said. “There’s this perception that the clothes are higher quality and look better. People can achieve versatility of style with vintage clothing in general.”

For his upcoming drop on Oct. 6, Enjeti said he expects many clients will select the on-campus delivery option. He still plans to list the same amount of pieces — about four to seven — despite the high demand that caused the first drop to sell out.

Enjeti said he plans to keep up his monthly drop strategy but wants to expand the business’s visibility by partnering with on-campus athletic organizations like Northwestern Wildside.

“I try to create a unique and different collection every month,” he said. “In that way, people know I’m not just dumping 40 items onto my website and hoping a few sell. I’m putting effort into thinking about this from the perspective of another Northwestern student.”

Molly Smith, Enjeti’s girlfriend and a sophomore at the University of California, Los Angeles, helped him get the idea off the ground.

Enjeti has always loved entrepreneurship, especially as he designed the startup’s website by himself, she said.

“He’s already been successful with startups in the past,” Smith said. “People always say it’s not about the company, it’s about the entrepreneur, and for that reason, I think it’ll be really successful.” 

Though Enjeti is running Wildcat Vintage by himself, he said he is using the startup as a way to get to know his new community better.

“As a transfer who is searching for my own niche on this campus, I want Wildcat Vintage to be a way for anyone to feel welcomed to the Wildcat community,” he said.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @charlottehrlich

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