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Local fashion company partners with Indy 500 for exclusive line

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is gearing up for the Indy 500 in a fashionable way this year.

MELI, a local fashion brand founded by current creative director Monty Matuka, partnered with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ahead of the annual race to launch an exclusive luxury streetwear line entitled MELI Motorsports. The line, which is part of IMS’ Race for Equality and Change, aims to draw awareness to people of color who have made names for themselves in the racing industry while highlighting the nostalgia of one of the largest sporting events in the country.

“It’s great to have people join the movement and understand the vision and be wanted to help push the narrative,” Matuka said, “because it’s not only a vision, it’s a necessity that we spread love and positivity, and that we can all learn how to connect by listening to one another, learning from one another.”

MELI Motorsports is inspired by people of color in the racing industry’s past, present and future.

MELI stands for “More Eqality, Less Ignorance” and was launched as a sophisticated streetwear brand in 2020, said Matuka. His goal as a designer was to use clothing to elevate the community by articulating themes of confidence and mindfulness and inspiring those who wear MELI clothing. 

Matuka said MELI hosts community events, including First Friday pop-ups, and workshops and is active with Circle City Storytellers to help provide a platform for others to share their stories and build a stronger community. The luxury clothing brand also “seeks to promote equality through cross cultures awareness,” which Matuka said made the partnership with IMS an ideal fit.

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“We’re strong advocates on inclusive inclusivity and diversity in addition to providing tools and resources to the creative arts ecosystem to help allow others to grow and thrive in their purpose,” Matuka said. 

Jimmie McMillian, chief diversity officer and senior corporate counsel of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said one of the main goals of the Race for Equality and Change is to make sure IMS and the NTT IndyCar Series is a sport where everyone feels they are welcome.

The partnership with MELI is just one of the new ways they are hoping to achieve this goal and broaden their reach — while also providing economic and financial benefits to small, local businesses, McMillian said.

“We want his audience of young people who are interested in fashion or interested in design to see something that reflects them and reflects some of the cultural aspects of what he creates,” McMillian said. “His work speaks to people’s culture, and so our hope is that through his work and our logos, our imagery, that the combination of the two will speak to a whole new audience of fans.”

1.   The partnership between MELI and IMS is part of the Race for Equality and Change initiative, which aims to highlight local, minority business owners.

MELI is not the only partnership IMS has in the works; however, McMillian said the uniqueness of what Matuka has to offer with MELI stood out. Part of the brand is to bring different perspectives and viewpoints to the table, and McMillian said that includes a different look — such as a different fashion sense.

MELI Motorsports is inspired by the history of auto racing and is essentially “paying homage” to minority trailblazers in the sport, Matuka said.

The line includes clothing items with motorsport themed graphics and designs with an inspired, urban take on classic racing jackets and vintage racing tees, Matuka said. The line also features elevated styles cargo shorts, pants and jackets with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway logo as well as MELI logos. 

Everything down to the fabric — think leather, water resistant and vintage wash — and cut of the cloth caters to the racing industry fit for both male and female consumers, Matuka said.

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“It’s a nod to a minority culture who have broken barriers in the sport of professional auto racing in both the past, in the present, in the future,” Matuka said. “Obviously the sport of racing isn’t that diverse of a sport, but we see the urge of the motor speedway to open it up and allow us as minorities to understand that we are welcome and in their sport.”

McMillian said IMS will continue to work with Matuka and MELI to further develop their partnership. However, they are “always interested in hearing and learning new things and new ways to partner with the community to expand the reach and breadth of the race.”

MELI Motorsports launched preorders March 30-April 30, but Matuka said the clothing will still be available to purchase at meli-intl.com, in the MELI Showroom, located at 43 Virginia Ave., Suite 207, and in the IMS museum gift shop.

Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848 or chloegm@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.

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