A creative platform to unleash young people’s creative brilliance is expanding from Ireland across Europe. The platform is called Junk Kouture, and since 2010, its primary creative outlet has been a fashion design competition which challenges students to design, create and model wearable couture from everyday junk.
Their mission is to inspire creativity and increasing awareness about sustainable fashion among teenagers through creating extraordinary designs from ordinary and overlooked materials.
Can you imagine a phoenix rising from the flames, but it’s made out of 12,072 homemade paper feathers and designed by a 16-year-old? The fashion is inspired by big name designers such as Alexander McQueen and Chanel.
Everyday trash is given the chance to be reborn and turned into couture with the imaginations of local youth. The golden rule is that everything used must be 100-percent recycled. Junk Kouture has already been around for 10 years with more than 100,000 students and 15,000 Kouture designs made from junk. It has established itself a high-ranking place as the premier recycled fashion competition for teenagers throughout Ireland and Scotland.
The competition was created in 2010 by entrepreneur Troy Armour to encourage young people to make art.
Founder Troy Armour says:
It is a hugely exciting time for Junk Kouture. Having been forced to reimagine what Junk Kouture had become over the past 10 years, our move to the digital space, coupled with our international expansion plans allowed us to accelerate bringing Junk Kouture to new audiences throughout the world. The program promotes the empowerment of young people by challenging them to be creative and resourceful in the design process. Our community is built of like-minded creatives, and we can’t wait to see what the young people of France bring to the competition in 2021 and beyond.
Teens ages 13 to 18 years old can enter the competition by beginning the construction of their sustainable couture design. Students are then required to register on the Junk Kouture app where they can upload a description, video and photographs of their creation. Contestants use everything from Nespresso caplets to computer hard drives and vinyl records to create fashion that looks like it belongs on the runway but is made with completely sustainable materials.
Thousands of teens from across Ireland enter every year, and their sustainable garments are showcased in regional finals throughout the country with the spectacular grand finale showcased to 5,000 audience members in 3Arena, Dublin. The competition awards fashion, design, innovation, performance and circular fashion while at the same time providing a platform for teens to learn about the business side of fashion and become socially engaged in their local communities.
In 2021, Junk Kouture organizers decided to go global and launched in five new cities: New York, London, Abu Dhabi, Milan, and, of course, the capital of fashion, Paris. With the arrival of COVID-19, the competition was forced to become even more creative and is asking creative enthusiasts to enter the digital competition for 2021/22 before transitioning back to live events once we return to pre-COVID normality.
In 2019, Maxim O’Sullivan’s winning design “Cinematic” embodied the iconic Phoenix Cinema in Dingle, Ireland created with a clever use of materials sourced from a recent makeover of the cinema which has been owned by Maxim’s family since the 1970s.
O’Sullivan speaks candidly on a YouTube video about how the Junk Kouture platform has helped him “find his space” and a creative outlet to express himself since he was never really into sports. “Junk Kouture gave me my personality. I think everyone should have something in their lives that drives you all the way and brings you to life,” he says.
Since his win in 2019, Maxim attended Cannes Film Festival in May 2019 and The Royal Film Performance with the World Premiere of “1917” at ODEON Luxe Leicester Square in London in December 2019.
For 2021/22, finalists from across the globe – Ireland, the United Kingdom, Italy, America, France and the United Arab Emirates – will compete in the Global Digital Final. There will be one winner from each territory while one talented designer will be crowned “Junk Kouture World Designer of the Year.”
Prizes include thousands in cash for the winning school, scholarships and Apple packages.
Junk Kouture doesn’t plan to stop with the competition. They have already partnered with judges around the globe and are even offering masterclasses on YouTube to connect young people with entrepreneurs and fashionistas who are leaders in the sustainable community. Additionally, they are setting up local workshops and partnering with local schools to help teens get involved.
They even plan to expand the competition further in 2022 to include Toyko, Los Angeles, Sydney, Singapore, Auckland and Cape Town. This new international element now gives Generation Z worldwide a creative voice they’ve never had before to drive home the message that the biggest crises the generation faces are our changing climate and finding a sustainable future for our planet.
Now, more than ever, our fashion choices have an impact on the world around us, and Junk Kouture is calling on young innovative minds to push the boundaries and choose materials for their designs that might
normally be overlooked.
Sign up for Junk Kouture
Last month, students from the UK, Milan, Paris, New York, London, and Abu Dhabi started putting together ideas for their couture creations. Then, in September 2021, Junk Kouture will launch registration online for all the above cities to register as competitors.
If you think you have what it takes to reign supreme on the global stage, you can enter as an individual or as a team with a maximum of three members for this exciting digital contest. There is no time like the present to get your thinking cap on and start considering your designs. If your school or students are interested in taking part, sign up here on the Junk Kouture Webinar to learn more from a JK expert.
You can see all the rules here … and there are a lot of rules. And you can download the current handbook here.
Become a part of the Junk Kouture community by downloading the Junk Kouture app available for both IOS and Android download. Keep up to date with all our developments on our social channels:
About the author:
Krystal Kenney is a photographer and writer in Paris, France. She also hosts a podcast called “La Vie Creative,” where she interviews creatives in Paris. She moved to Paris more than eight years ago from Annapolis, Maryland to start a new life. Krystal loves spending her days exploring Paris, and traveling all over Europe. You can see more of her photography and her podcast on her website here. She specializes in wedding, event, and vacation photos.
You can follow her and Miss Paris Photo on Instagram and on Facebook.
You can see more of her work for Dispatches here.