Milk Shirts and The Perfect Button-Down – A Fashion Interview with Sheetal Pritmani

The story of Milk Shirts begins with Sheetal Pritmani completing her fashion training at London College of Fashion and designing women’s clothes during internships with Stella McCartney and Markus Lupfer.

It didn’t take long for Sheetal to realize she wanted to open her own company and build a better button-down for the fashion conscious gentleman.

Sheetal launched her own company, Milk Shirts, in her hometown of Hong Kong, and it’s been bespoke luxury ever since.

Sheetal’s online and showroom customers now enjoy great-looking and long-lasting pieces, quality creations worth every thread, stitch and mother of pearl button.

Without further ado…


The NewsWhistle Q&A with Designer Sheetal Pritmani, Milk Shirts



Name: Sheetal Pritmani (pictured above)

Date of Interview: 28 June 2016

Age (if you want to give it up): 35

Birthplace: Hong Kong

Current town: Hong Kong

Occupation: Creative Director at Milk Shirts, Entrepreneur


Tell us a little about yourself:

I was born and raised in Hong Kong amongst a very international community and later trained at London College of Fashion which is a part of UAL. I started my fashion career interning at Markus Lupfer and Stella McCartney, both in London. I eventually decided to move back to Hong Kong, which is where I currently reside.


Why did you decide to leave women’s fashion and start up a men’s shirt company?

I love womenswear however I got to dabble in men’s denim at my first job in Hong Kong and discovered that it was a far more interesting challenge for me. Starting a business such as luxury tailored shirts opened me up to an entirely new world of fashion conscious gentlemen that I dealt with on an individual basis and providing high quality, wearable clothing for them just seemed right and where I felt I could best utilize my skill set.


Why did you choose Hong Kong as your base?

It’s my hometown but also Hong Kong is a buzzing city with abundant opportunity especially in the field of men’s tailoring. It’s a hub for trading and all aspects of my business are easy to manage from here. It’s a great base.


What’s the funniest or saddest thing that’s happened to you this week?

I have been a part of a Book Club for three years. The last book that we read was about the Holocaust and three woman’s journeys and how they survived it. Discussing the book and the events that occurred was probably the saddest part of my week.


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What’s your favorite movie? And why?

The Goonies – I loved the sense of adventure and unscheduled play time where kids could explore and use their creativity and imagination. It’s different now, so that brings back fond memories.


What’s the biggest risk you took in life?

Saying no to things that were not working in my life, even though I had invested an incredible amount of time, effort and energy, and choosing to follow my gut instead.


If you could go back in time and do one thing over, what would that be?

To be really honest, I don’t believe in regrets. I think we do the best we can at that time given the information we had available to us. But if I had to say something, it would be to have taken more risks!


Tell us your favorite joke:

Most things make me laugh…! I don’t have a particular joke that comes to mind, but it is quite easy to make me giggle.


What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

When I am stressed out and need a break, the one thing that calms me down is going to McDonalds on my own, and enjoying a Sausage McMuffin (no egg)! It is a weird craving, but it works.


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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard?

Hard work pays off. And, to never stop learning.

Education is a personal responsibility that doesn’t stop once we’ve got our degrees etc. Opportunities to learn something new are all around us, whether it is in a conversation with a cheeky 7-year-old, a stuffy professor, or the doorman.


What do men need to know about buying button down shirts for themselves?

There are literally millions of options out there. I think to go custom either in person or on an online store means you can get the fit right, that is key. The cut should be flattering and comfortable to wear.

The fabric is also crucial. Look for 100% cotton and of course the higher the yarn count the better as it enhances the comfort and fall of the shirt. Depending on the occasion one could choose the appropriate collar and cuff style.


What are the most important asks while buying a bespoke shirt? (return policy, history, etc.)

Will it fit? Can I return it if it doesn’t and how can I re-order?

Being an online business we send shirts to our clients to try on. If it doesn’t fit perfectly (it usually does) we’ll get it back and either alter or remake their first shirt without any cost.

Every client has an individual shirt pattern created specifically for them and we archive those measurements along with any fit changes on their profile. This is to ensure convenient re-ordering.


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There are like seven things we always ask for before buying a shirt (fabric quality, collar, type of buttons, number of buttons, no pocket, room under the arms, length of arms and shirt)? Is there anything else buyers should consider?

I think that covers everything! Of course depending on the occasion there are styles that lend themselves more for work or a more casual or formal affair.


What are the top trends in men’s shirt?

Whilst trends are great I think a man can never go wrong with a classic white shirt. It’s a blank canvas to build any look upon. It really is timeless. One can experiment with a button down collar for more casual affairs or more classic or spread collars suitable for work.


What will be the top color and the top pattern this year? And next?

Currently I’m loving deep ocean blues, all shades of indigo, faint grey and chamois, which is a nice alternative to light khaki. It could be a great new neutral for next season.


What is the proper life of a shirt? When should you buy new shirts to add to your wardrobe? 

It really depends on when you wear them and how you care for them. A clean shirt hanging in a closet not exposed to heat, humidity or sunlight can last for years or even decades.

The three main factors are firstly the shirt construction; the quality of the fabric, the strength of the stitching at the seams and the quality of the buttons. Secondly, the wear; a better measure would be after how many washes it still looks good. I’d say around 50 washes but good quality shirts could still be worn after 80-100 washes. To increase the life of a shirt wearing an undershirt would help as it would absorb perspiration and protect your shirt from anti-perspirants that cause discoloration. Having a shirt that fits right is also a plus; a tight shirt especially around the collar and waist will definitely show signs of weakened seams or wear on the collar. Finally how you care for your shirt will affect its life expectancy. Use good quality wooden hangers and launder your shirts as soon as possible after wearing them.


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What are some classic shirt forms that every man should own? 

White still reigns as the most versatile and formal color and its popularity has safely placed it among the iconic garments a man can wear.

A solid white poplin or oxford shirt in my opinion is a must-have. A solid pattern is the most formal and yet the most versatile. There are also different weaves that give the impression of monotony from a distance only to reveal their true nature up close. A herringbone or twill are classic options as well.

Most men can’t go wrong with a classic blue on white stripe. This pattern looks especially good with a solid colored suit.

Check shirts are also great for less formal occasions. Or for a semi-casual look a checked shirt looks great with a solid suit and striped tie.


What’s the best way to care for a bespoke or expensive shirt?

We recommend machine washing at 40°C. Unbutton the shirt to take the pressure of the buttons, turn it inside out and remember to remove collar stays to avoid uneven wear on the collar. To increase the life of your shirt, hang it dry instead of tumble drying it. As previously mentioned hanging them on wooden hangers to maintain shape will ensure they last longer.


Who’s your favorite celebrity? And why?

George Clooney. He’s a great actor but also because of his philanthropy. He is using his celebrity status as a force for good. Plus he looks great in a white shirt!


Any other shirt advice that you’d like to give?

Quality over quantity.


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Images Courtesy of Milk Shirts and Sheetal Pritmani