Marks and Spencer has apologised after a customer called the brand out for naming its darker-coloured bras differently to its lighter-coloured bras.
Kusi Kimani was shopping in one of the retailer’s shops when she noticed how the lighter bras were all named after sweet treats and desserts.
The dark-coloured bra, however, was named “tobacco”.
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“I saw it about two weeks after George Floyd’s death and it was particularly raw to see at that time,” Kimani told The Mirror.
“Why not call it cocoa, caramel or chocolate – sweet dessert items? But they used tobacco. I was shocked when I saw it.”
Kimani went on to describe the incident as “hurtful” and as “an example of how bias is ingrained into society and only helps fuel racism”.
“If a young girl who is already uncomfortable with the colour of her skin (sees it) she will be feeling even more alienated,” she explained.
“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’.”
Kimani added that the incident was an example of how entrenched racial bias is within our society.
“Be it overt or covert, however in this instance this is a form of covert racism,” she said.
A spokesperson for M&S responded to The Metro with an apology.
“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,” they said.
“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.”
The Independent has contacted M&S for further comment.