How Firms Fail at D&I

Inclusion, Hegemony, and Modest Fashion

  • Alice Leri


This paper analyzes the impact that inclusive marketing practices might have on society using modest fashion as a case study. The study employs an ethnographic approach to discourse analysis and explores the impact of modest fashion in reshaping the boundaries of exclusion and belonging in the United States. Throughout the paper the author argues that as firms try to become more inclusive in the marketplace, they inadvertently perpetuated hegemonic and micro-hegemonic systems of belonging wherein non-threatening forms of otherness are assimilated into a safe "new normal" and liminal identities are further marginalized.

Author Biography

Alice Leri

Alice Leri works in Corporate Development as Diversity and Inclusion manager at Forschungszentrum Jülich (Germany). From 2014 to 2019, she was a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Sonoco International Business Department at the Moore School (University of South Carolina), where she still teaches Diversity and Inclusion management as Adjunct Faculty. At the same institution, she served as inaugural Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion from 2016 to 2019. Alice holds a doctoral degree in Cultural Studies from Tilburg University (The Netherlands) and a Master’s Degree in Islamic Studies from “L’Orientale” University in Naples (Italy).



Aljabri, Z. 2016. "The 4 Big Problems with Ramadan Fashion Collections." Refinery 29 [Accessed 5 July 2018].

Amer, S. 2014. What is Veiling. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Anjum, A. 2017. "The Problem with D&G’s Abaya Line." Huffington Post. [Accessed 5 July 2018].

Appadurai, A. 1996. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Atia, M. 2013. Building a House in Heaven: Pious Neoliberalism and Islamic Charity in Egypt. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Barthes, Roland. 1957. Mythologies. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.

Bhabha, H. 1994. The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge.

Blommaert, J. 2005. Discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Blommaert, J. 2010. The Sociolinguistics of Globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brent Turner, R. 2003. Islam in the African American Experience. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Brown, D. W. 2009. A New Introduction to Islam. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Çınar, A. 2008. “Subversion and Subjugation in the Public Sphere: Secularism and the Islamic Headscarf.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 33/4: 891-913.

Curtis, E. 2014. The Call of Bilal: Islam in the African Diaspora. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Davila A. 2001. Latinos, Inc.: The Marketing and Making of. People. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Dreid, N. 2018. "Does H&M’s Modest Fashion Line Hit the Mark?" MuslimGirl. [Accessed 5 July 2018].

Ghemawat, P. 2007. Redefining Global Strategy: Crossing Borders in a World Where Differences Still Matter. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.

Gibson, D. and Karim, J. 2014. Women of the Nation. New York: New York University Press.

Gökarıksel B. and Secor, A. 2009. “New Transnational Geographies of Islamism, Capitalism and Subjectivity: The Veiling-Fashion Industry in Turkey.” Area 41: 6-18.

________ 2010a. “Islamic-ness in the Life of a Commodity: Veiling-Fashion in Turkey.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 35: 313-333.

________ 2010b. “Between Fashion and Tesettür, Marketing and Consuming Women’s Islamic Dress.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 6(3): 118-148.

Haddad, Y.Y. et al. 2006. Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Haris, R 2016. "D&G’s Hijab Range Is Aimed at People Like Me – So Why Do I Feel Excluded?" The Guardian. [Accessed 5 July 2018].

Haute Muslimah 2015. "Ramadan Collection from MANGO." The Haute Muslimah. [Accessed 5 July 2018].

Holck, L.; Muhr, S.L. and Villesèche, F. 2016. “Identity, Diversity and Diversity Management: on Theoretical Connections, Assumptions and Implications for Practice.” Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal 35: 48-64.

Karim J. 2009. American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender within the Ummah. New York: New York University Press.

Kayyali, R. 2013. "US Census Classifications and Arab Americans: Contestations and Definitions of Identity Markers." Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 39: 1299-1318.

Kishi, K 2017. "Assaults against Muslims in U.S. Surpass 2001 Level." Pew Research Center. [Accessed 5 July 2018].

Khosroshahi, Z. 2017. “Here is Why Modest Fashion and Ethics Need to Go Hand-in-Hand.” MuslimGirl. [Accessed 2 July 2018].

Leahvernon, 2018. “Muslim Women Are Trending But Some of Us Are Still Invisible.” MuslimGirl. [Accessed 2 July 2018].

Leiss, W. et al. 2005. Social Communication in Advertising. New York: Routledge.

Lewis, R. 2013. Modest Fashion: Styling Bodies, Mediating Faith. London: IB Tauris.

Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures. Durham: Duke University Press.

McMahan, G. et al 1998. “Strategic Human Resources Management: Employee Involvement, Diversity and International Issues.” Human Resources Management Review 3/3: 193-214.

Malefyt, T.d.W. 2014. “Anthropologists at Work in Advertising and Marketing.” In A Handbook of Practicing Anthropology Nolan R. W.(ed), 247-57. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Malefyt, T.d.W. 2015. “Relationship advertising: How advertising can enhance social bonds.” Journal of Business Research 68/12: 2494-2502.

Malefyt, T.d.W. 2017. “Anthropologist in Advertising Agencies: Mediating Structures of Power and Knowledge Capital by Managing Relationships.” Journal of Business Anthropology 6: 89-101.

Malefyt, T.d. W. and Moeran, B. 2003. “Advertising Cultures — Advertising, Ethnography and Anthropology.” In Advertising Cultures, Malefyt T. d. W. and Moeran, B. (eds.), 1–34. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Malefyt, T. d. W. and Morais, R. J. 2017. “Advertising Anthrpoplogy Ethics.” In Ethics in the Anthropology of Business, Malefyt, T. W. and Morais, R. J. (eds),. 104-18. New York: Routledge.

Moeran, B. 2009. “Advertising and the Technology of Enchantment: The Portrayal of Beauty in Women's Fashion Magazines.” Fashion Theory, 14/4: 491-510.

Moeran, B. 2017. “Fashion magazines and fashion as a system of magic.” Anthropology Today 33: 3-9.

Moore, A. 1999. “Understanding and Managing diversity among Groups at Work: Key Issues of Organizational Training and Development.” Journal of European Industrial Training, 23: 208-217.

Muhammad E. S. 2016. “Islamic Fashion Weekend 2016: The Ultimate Takeover of the Fashion Industry.” The Final Call. [Accessed 2 July 2018].

Navaro-Yashin, Y. 2002. “The Market for Identities: Secularism, Islamism, Commodities.” In Fragments of Culture: the Everyday of Modern Turkey, D. Kandiyoti, and A. Saktanber, eds., pp. 221-53. London: IB Tauris.

Petrilla, M. 2015. "The Next Big Untapped Fashion Market: Muslim Women." Fortune. [Accessed 5 July 2018].

Podsiadlowski, et al. 2013. “Diversity Perspectives in Organizations.” International Journal of Intercultural Relation 37: 156-175.

Pollay, R. W. 1986. “The Distorted Mirror: Reflections on the Unintended Consequences of Advertising.” Journal of Marketing 50: 18-36.

________ 1993 “Here is the Beef: Factors, Determinants and Segments in Consumer Criticism of Advertising.” Journal of Marketing 57: 99-114.

________ 1997. “Hacks, Flacks, and Counter-Attacks: Cigarette Advertising Sponsored Research and Controversies.” Journal of Social Issues 53: 53-74.

Robinson, R. 2015. "Sexuality, Difference, and American Hijabi Bloggers." Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World 13: 383–400.

Rowsome, A. 2017. “Muslim YouTuber Dina Tokio Tells Us How She Uses Her Platform to Fight Islamophobia.” Vice. [Accessed 5 July 2018].

Ruby T. F. 2018. “Discourses of Veiling and the Precarity of Choice.” In Almila A. and Inglis D. (Eds.) The Routledge International Handbook to Veils and Veiling: pp. 44-52. New York: Routledge.

Rudnycky, D. J. 2010. Spiritual Economies: Islam, Globalization and the Afterlife of Development. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Sandikçi, Ö. and G. Ger 2001. “Fundamental Fashions: the Cultural Politics of the Turban and the Levi’s Advances.” Journal of Consumer Research 28 146–50.

“In-between Modernities and Postmodernities: Theorizing Turkish Consumptionscape Advances.” Journal of Consumer Research 29: 465–70.

“Veiling in Style: How Does a Stigmatized Practice Become Fashionable?” Journal of Consumer Research 37: 15-36.

“Islam, Consumption and Marketing: Going Beyond the Essentialist Approach.” In Ö. Sandikçi and G. Rice (eds.) Handbook of Islamic Marketing: pp. 484-501. Cheltenham: Edward Edgard Publishing.

Shankar, S. 2012. “Creating Model Consumers: Producing Ethnicity, Race, and Class In Asian American Advertising.” American Ethnologist. 39/3: 578–591.

________. 2013. “Racial Naturalization, Advertising, and Model Consumers for a New Millennium.” Journal of Asian American Studies 16/2: 159-188.

Sherry, j. F. 1987 “Advertising as a Cultural System.” In Marketing and Semiotics: Umiker-Sebeok (ed.), 441-62. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Syeda, M. 2018. "Modest Clothing Means a Lot to Me as a Muslim Woman." Allure. [Accessed 5 July 2018].

Tatli, A. and Özbilgin, M. 2012. “An Emic Approach to Intersectional Study of Diversity at Work: a Bourdieuan Framing.” International Journal of Management Reviews 14: 180-200.

Temporal, P. 2011. “The Future of Islamic Branding and Marketing: a Managerial Perspective.” In Ö. Sandikçi, and G. Rice (eds.) Handbook of Islamic Marketing: pp. 468-483. Cheltenham: Edward Edgard Publishing.

Tepe, S. 2011. "Serving God through the Market: The Emergence of Religious Consumptionspaces." In Handbook of Islamic Marketing, Ö. Sandikçi and G. Rice, eds., pp. 363-392. Cheltenham: Edward Edgard Publishing.

Theranian, J. 2009. Whitewashed: America’s Invisible Middle Eastern Minority. New York: New York University Press.

Thomas, D. A. 2004. “Diversity as a strategy.” Harvard Business Review: 1-11.

Tokio, D. 2016. "Designer Abayas, What’s New?" Dina. [Accessed 5 July 2018].

"H&M's Modest Collection Got Me Fuming! Really??? Haul & Try On!" YouTube. [Accessed July 2018].

van Dijk, T. A. 1993. “Principles of Critical Discourse Analysis.” Discourse & Society 4/2: 249–283.

Varis. P. 2016. “Digital Ethnography.” In A. Georgakopoulou, and T. Spilioti (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Language and Digital Communication: pp. 55-68. Abingdon: Routledge.

Vertovec, S. 2007. “Super-diversity and its implications.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30.6: 1024-54.

Wieczorek-Szymanska A. 2017. “Organisational Maturity in Diversity Management.” Journal of Corporate Responsibility and Leadership 4: 79-91.

Wodak, R. 2001. ”What is CDA About. A Summary of its History, Important Concepts and its Developments.” In Wodak, R. and Meyer, M. (Eds.) Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis: pp. 1-13. London: Sage

Yazbeck Haddad, Y., Smith, J.I. and Moore, K.M. 2016. Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Zanoni, P. et al. 2010. “Unpacking Diversity, Grasping Inequality. Rethinking Difference through Critical Perspectives.” Organization 17: 9-29.

Zobair, J. 2014. "Muslim American Women Are the New Normal." Huffington Post. [Accessed 5 July 2018].

Zanoni, P. et al. 2010. “Unpacking Diversity, Grasping Inequality. Rethinking Difference through Critical Perspectives.” Organization 17: 9-29.