Fashion On Fire with Arthritis Society Canada

On May 29th, the Arcadian Court will be transformed into a runway to amplify the need for adaptive clothing for those living with Arthritis. The Arthritis Society Canada plans to disrupt the normal fashion space with these adaptive garments on display highlighting the need as 6 million Canadians have Arthritis. 

“Fashion is a powerful means of self-expression and a way for individuals to showcase their unique personalities and creativity. However, for the one in five people living with arthritis in Canada, many of them live with debilitating pain and have restricted mobility which limits their ability to express themselves through fashion due to the lack of accessible and inclusive clothing options”. Shares the Arthritis Society Canada.

“At Fashion on Fire, we’re disrupting the fashion industry by shining a light on the crucial need for more adaptive clothing and advocating for individuals to be able to express themselves through clothing choices, regardless of their physical limitations. We’re also showcasing the resiliency and strength of people who live with arthritis by providing them with a stage to model arthritis-friendly designs and the opportunity to feel empowered as they strut down the runway.” Shockingly, 25,000 children live with Arthritis in Canada which takes a toll on the person’s physical and mental well being.

This years host Mana Mansour is deeply connected to this cause because of her father. When Mana’s father was in his early 40s, he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a type of inflammatory arthritis that causes the spine to fuse together, becoming stiff, inflexible and painful. Mana remembers her father as an active individual who loved playing soccer and the outdoors. However, arthritis has dramatically altered his life; he now has a fused neck and cannot drive or partake in activities he once enjoyed. 

For Mana, it’s important that people understand the profound impact of arthritis. It’s not just aches and pains – it’s a serious chronic disease that restricts mobility, diminishes quality of life and is a leading cause of disability and work limitations in Canada. It’s also important for Mana to raise awareness that this disease is not only restricted to seniors.Arthritis has no cure and affects individuals of all ages and health backgrounds. Even those who are healthy, active and lack a family history of the disease can find themselves unexpectedly grappling its devasting effects.

For guests, the dress code of Downtown Chic is a fun way to showcase personality but also to note that everyone should feel comfortable with no barriers or restrictions.

Designers participating include Hilary MacMillan, Second Nature Boutique, David Dixon, Amanda Maria, FREDA’S, Got Style, and Dotty. David Dixon tells us he understands first-hand how difficult it can be for someone with sore and swollen joints to do up small buttons or back-zippers, as his niece was diagnosed with osteoarthritis at 14 years old. “Getting dressed was once a seemingly simple task, but now requires substantial time and energy.”

Amanda Maria has also chosen to participate in Arthritis Society Canada’s Fashion on Fire because it’s an opportunity to contribute to a cause that’s deeply personal and meaningful to her. As a designer, she believes that clothing should not only look good but also feel good and be accessible to everyone, regardless of any physical challenges they may face. Being married to a rheumatologist, she is very familiar with the daily hurdles of arthritis patients, especially when it comes to tasks such as getting dressed. That’s why her line of luxury leisurewear not only exudes elegance and style, but also prioritises comfort and ease of wear.

For Hilary, participating with Fashion on Fire is just as personal. “As someone who has been on a journey to diagnosis and treat my own arthritis I immediately knew I wanted to participate in Fashion on Fire. The reality of living and working with arthritis is all about adapting to a new way of living and finding easier ways to make everyday tasks manageable. With my brand I am always striving to make clothes more inclusive for everybody and making sure clothing is accessible for all.” 

Recognizing the need for change and adaptable clothing, David and an increasing number of brands and designers, including Amanda Maria, Freda’s and Hilary MacMillan, are stepping up to produce adaptive clothing and arthritis-friendly designs. To ease the dressing process for people who experience difficulties as a result of their arthritis symptoms, clothing is being thoughtfully crafted to include larger-sized buttons and zipper pulls or adding a loop to zipper pulls, velcro or magnetic closures to shirts instead of buttons or having a pull-over style, keyhole back or neck slit with a Velcro, snap or magnet closure at the top for more freedom of movement when putting it on, ribbon loops to the sides of pants to make it easier to reach the waist to pull on, functional pockets to help keep hands free and reduce the need to carry a bag and elastic waistbands, pull-on pants and slip-on shoes.

 If you want to learn more about this amazing event, visit:

Hillary LeBlanc

Hillary LeBlanc

Hillary is an Acadian-Senegalese queer woman passionate about sharing stories relating to the Black community, fashion, beauty and sustainability.