Marks & Spencer is making a change to its range of bra colours after being accused of "covert racism".
The retailer has apologised after Kusi Kimani, 29, from East Sussex, raised concerns over a brown bra on its website that was called "tobacco".
Lighter colours of the £12 Marks & Spencer Collection padded bras are described as "cinnamon" and "fudge", reports the Mirror.
Ms Kimani complained, saying the name of the colour for her skin tone carried negative connotations, while more positive words were used for lighter colours.
Two months on from her initial complaint, the bra is still being sold in a "tobacco" colour on the M&S website but it pledged to ditch the name when approached by the Mirror and apologised for not acting sooner.
Ms Kimani said: "I saw it about two weeks after George Floyd's death and it was particularly raw to see at that time. Why not call it cocoa, caramel or chocolate - sweet dessert items? But they used tobacco. I was shocked when I saw it.
"It's hurtful to me and my friends. If a young girl who is already uncomfortable with the colour of her skin (sees it) she will be feeling even more alienated. Each week that website is showing that racism is another week a young girl may come across it and feel bad for the rest of her life.
"To see that 'tobacco' is for their skin tone will make them feel unwanted by society. Tobacco is referred to in society as bad, unhealthy, and highly likely to kill - ‘smoking kills’. This is an example of how bias is ingrained into society and only helps fuel racism, be it overt or covert, however in this instance this is a form of covert racism."
The company's customer service team previously told the pharmaceutical clinical trials manager that its colour names were not meant to carry negative connotations. In an email sent on June 10, the store said it was reviewing its naming convention and also looking at its product range with BAME staff.
It said: "The names we use are taken from those on a colour palette and were never designed to match to a skin tone - I would like to assure you the choice of names is absolutely not intended to carry any negative connotations.
"We review design trends in the market each year to ensure we are offering a fashionable palette to all our customers, and we are actively reviewing our naming convention in the light of the feedback we are receiving.
"We liaise with our store colleagues on a regular basis to determine which colours we need to offer our customer and we are also working with our BAME colleague network to receive their input too."
The email added that the firm knows it needs to have a "better, wider skin colour offer", particularly for black and dark skin tones. It said the range is under review so improvements can be made.
Ms Kimani said: "I approached Marks & Spencer as I thought it could have been an oversight. It shouldn't be a matter of having to fight to be taken seriously. They are willing to stand with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement but they are not willing to put in the work to make changes.
"In the past I would have been upset about it and buried it away. But this BLM movement has given me courage."
Reacting to the U-turn on the colour name, she said: "It's great news. The only thing I'd say is that it's a shame I had to get in touch with the media in order for that change to be made. Me on my own wasn't enough. As an individual I went to the executive team who had the power to do it - but they didn't. It would be good if in future individuals are taken seriously."
A Marks & Spencer spokesman said: "In June we shared our commitments to being a truly inclusive place to shop and work and were honest that we have more to do and more to learn.
"As part of this, we are reviewing our ranges, supported by our BAME network, to ensure we have lingerie items that are flattering and suitable for all customers. All of our product colour names have been taken from a design colour palette used across the industry, but we agree with Kusi.
"We are changing the name of the bra colour and are writing to Kusi to confirm that, and let her know that we’re sorry for not moving faster."
It is understood Marks & Spencer is removing "tobacco" as a colour name from its range.