Marks & Spencer said it has no plans to withdraw its Santoni crop top range despite criticism it was aimed at encouraging young girls to think it was a bra.

The UK retailer stocks the Santoni range of Heart crop tops but has come under fire from UK media suggesting the clothing carried the appearance of bras for its 6-14 year old girl's range.

Although conceding the Santoni crop top did have "thin, adjustable bra-straps," an M&S spokeswoman insisted the product was not a bra and that it supported the Mumsnet children's charity with the slogan: "Let Girls be Girls."

"We don't agree it is unsuitable for the age range - it is not a bra - it does not have structural padding," the spokeswomen told just-style.

"It will continue to be sold - we are not withdrawing it," she added, noting: "We have apologised - Mumsnet is a very important charity to us."

Value clothing chain Primark recently withdrew a controversial girl's bikini top after it was criticised for its appropriateness, while several UK retailers also came under scrutiny for stocking similar clothing.

Reports the Primark top was padded led it to delist the product and donate all profits from the line to a children's charity.

M&S now labels its Santoni product as 'Older Girl's Heart Crop Tops,' although the retailer accepts a previous description had been incorrect.

Reports had suggested the item had been labelled bra tops, but an M&S statement noted: "All future packaging of the product will be correctly labelled and we have already altered its online description.

"We are totally committed to ensuring our clothing offer is age appropriate, which is why we are proud to be supporting the Mumsnet campaign "Let Girls be Girls."

Contacted by just-style, the Children's Society charity noted: "We know from our research that commercial pressures towards premature sexualisation and unprincipled advertising are damaging children's well-being."