Saisha Shinde: A Pioneering Force in Fashion and Identity (2024)


Saisha Shinde’s journey from Swapnil Shinde to a trailblazing transgender fashion designer is a testament to resilience, authenticity, and unwavering courage. Born in 1981 in Hindu Colony, Dadar, Mumbai, Saisha emerged not only as a renowned fashion designer but also as the first transgender fashion designer of India. Her story, characterized by triumph over adversity, showcases the transformative power of self-discovery and acceptance.

Early Years and Struggles of Saisha Shinde:

Saisha Shinde’s early years were marked by the challenges of growing up in a conservative Maharashtrian family. Her father, Tulsidas Shinde, owned a chain of restaurants, while her mother pursued a career as an artist. Saisha faced bullying and discrimination in school due to her feminine features, leading her to seek solace in the church on the school premises.

To conform to societal norms, Saisha made a conscious decision to present herself in a more masculine manner, a struggle she faced during the early ’90s when societal expectations of masculinity were narrow. Despite these challenges, she pursued her passion for fashion, graduating from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Mumbai in 2003. Her transformative internship at the House of Versace in Italy, working under the legendary Donatella Versace, laid the foundation for her future success.

Rise to Prominence:

Saisha Shinde’s debut at the Lakmé Fashion Week in 2006 marked the beginning of her ascent in the fashion world. Her collections, characterized by glamorous gowns, edgy silhouettes, and intricate embroidery, quickly garnered attention. Establishing her own label, Swapnil Shinde, she became a sought-after designer, dressing Bollywood stars such as Priyanka Chopra, Sonam Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Sunny Leone, and Hina Khan. Saisha’s signature style, blending Western and Indian elements with vibrant colors, set her apart in the industry.

Recognition and Awards:

Saisha Shinde’s creative prowess earned her several accolades and awards, including the Elle Style Award for Breakthrough Designer (2008), Grazia Young Fashion Award for Best Evening Wear Designer (2010), and Vogue Beauty Award for Best Dressed Designer (2012). Her success in the industry continued to soar, but beneath the glamorous exterior, Saisha grappled with a deeper truth about her identity.

The Journey of Self-Discovery:

In her twenties, Saisha Shinde initially identified as gay, navigating through societal expectations. However, a profound realization dawned on her – she was suffering from gender dysphoria. This condition, characterized by a misalignment between one’s biological sex and gender identity, prompted Saisha to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Therapies and consultations became crucial aspects of her path towards embracing her true self.

Public Declaration and Transition:

On January 6, 2021, Saisha Shinde publicly embraced her identity as a trans woman through a heartfelt Instagram post. Renaming herself Saisha, which means “a meaningful life,” she shared her transformation journey, including a sex reassignment surgery in Bangkok, Thailand, in November 2020. Saisha expressed gratitude to her family, friends, and fans for their unwavering support and acceptance.

Despite her financial stability and success as a designer, Saisha felt an internal void, realizing that she was living a life that did not align with her true identity. In an interview, she expressed feeling like someone who dressed up as a man, complete with rugged boots and stubble. It was as if she had reversed the typical gender role, not the other way around. The decision to transition, though challenging, was pivotal for Saisha to lead an authentic life.

Professional Excellence Post-Transition:

Saisha Shinde’s transition did not impede her professional excellence; rather, it opened new doors and opportunities. In 2021, she made history as the first transgender designer to showcase her collection at the Paris Fashion Week. Her designs continued to make a mark, and she reached another milestone by designing the silver gown for Harnaaz Sandhu, who clinched the Miss Universe title in 2021. The gown, incorporating traditional phulkari patterns as a tribute to Harnaaz’s Punjabi roots, reflected Saisha’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity.

Lock Upp and Philanthropy:

Saisha Shinde’s advocacy extended beyond the runway when she participated in the digital reality show ‘Lock Upp,’ hosted by Kangana Ranaut. Sharing her personal and professional experiences as a trans woman, Saisha demonstrated her resilience and determination. Her philanthropic endeavors were equally commendable, as she donated half of her earnings from ‘Lock Upp’ to the LGBTQ+ organization Humsafar Trust. She also pledged to make monthly contributions, emphasizing the importance of love, acceptance, and support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Inspiring Others and Future Aspirations:

Saisha Shinde’s visibility as a successful trans woman in the fashion industry has positioned her as an inspiration for others facing similar struggles. Through her social media platforms, Saisha continues to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ issues, sharing her personal experiences, opinions, and insights. Collaborating with other celebrities and influencers, she amplifies the message of love, acceptance, and diversity.

Saisha envisions being a role model and a leader for the LGBTQ+ community, breaking stereotypes and stigmas associated with being transgender. She shared that She wants to inspire and empower others who are struggling with their identity and expression. She wants to celebrate and embrace the beauty of diversity and inclusion.


Saisha Shinde’s journey is not just a narrative of a successful fashion designer but a powerful story of identity, resilience, and authenticity. From Swapnil Shinde to Saisha, she emerged as an icon, challenging societal norms and celebrating diversity. Her impact extends beyond the runway, as she advocates for the rights and dignity of the LGBTQ+ community.

In a world that often imposes rigid norms, Saisha stands as a beacon of courage and a testament to the transformative power of self-discovery. As she continues to create, inspire, and lead, Saisha Shinde remains an unstoppable force in both the fashion industry and the broader realm of societal change. Her journey is a celebration of individuality, a reminder that true beauty lies in embracing one’s authentic self.

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