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Junk Kouture World Tour Goes Live! Planet’s Biggest Fashion and Eco Brand Awards Launches in the UAE. Schools and Students Unite to Save the Planet. Exclusive.
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Junk Kouture – All We Can Say is Just… WOW!

Rarely, so rarely, something comes along in Education that rocks worlds – just wows you * out * of * your * mind*. And, The Top Schools Awards notwithstanding, this is it. We cannot think of any other more powerful, meaningful and engaging initiative for schools and students to come to the UAE in our lifetime. Really. There is so much opportunity here for every school in the UAE, no exceptions, to shine a light on just how amazing schools are here in the UAE – and how extraordinarily creative our students are.

This is a competition in which we can collectively showcase the extraordinary talent of UAE young people in Art and Design, Sustainability, Ecology, Science, Fashion, Technology – there is no limit to what can be achieved and imagined. We do not normally call on schools to take part in a third party event – but this, we think, deserves it.

We, schools and educationalists, have a real chance to put our schools on the global map – and inspire a generation of young people to create, to invent, to explore the environment – and then to take their ideas to make something that brings sparkle and magic to the world.

We know our schools can rise to the challenge. And we all have time.

So what is involved? Very simply, it is designing, and then manufacturing, fashion from objects that most would see as junk. We have all seen the plastic that  is absolutely ruinous on the environment around the world. But what if we, as schools and students, imagining a better world, could take that plastic to make something? This is just one example. There are a million other pieces of junk so sadly characteristic of our throw-away society, that could generate a whirlwind rush of passionate, inspired and dynamic ideas from our young people to make a statement that we can, really, all collectively do better.

We have shared the idea of Junk Kouture with a meaningful sample of young people and their reaction – an absolute explosion of ideas and passion, says to us that this is something we should all in the UAE educational community support.

Many of us as parents too, know the absolute minefield we are facing with university admissions, particularly oversees. Many universities are now significantly oversubscribed, and, in an ocean of top grades, we are now facing questions about how our children can stand out from a crowd and an increasingly constricted number of available places. This initiative promises a unique way that students, from every part of the curriculum, Mathematics and Physics, to the Performing Arts and Design, can do just that – adding something to their CVs to showcase exceptionally meaningful applications of knowledge, an interest in global affairs and the capacity of invention to change our world for the better.



How can I contact Junk Kouture?

The best way to meet the team is direct over webinar. You can book your appointment to speak live here.

You can also learn more at the special Junk Kouture official UAE web page here.


Junk Kouture: The Official Q&A for Schools and Students

Q&A Session with Katie Brill, Junk Kouture’s Vice President of Public Relations and Communications, June 2021


“Tell us the story of how JK started – who came up with the brilliant idea, what is it and what are the ambitions?” 

Junk Kouture Logo UAE 2020 2021 2022 Hot Pink

“Junk Kouture began in 2010, as a small independent fashion competition for local secondary schools in the North West of Ireland when tech entrepreneur, Troy Armour came across the idea of making fashion out items people consider junk.

Growing up, Troy was a creative kid and realised when you’re not sporty or a kid who excels in science or maths, that it was difficult to get that kind of celebration of who you are. As he went through his life, he realised the value of his creativity and when he came across the idea of creating fashion out of junk, he felt it could be something. It had a creativity and entertainment element, but it also had an educational aspect around climate change and finding a sustainable future for our planet. It was only in later years that he realised how it provided creative students with a place to find their tribe and sense of community.

Developed initially with a small team, focus was on building relationships with schools by travelling across the country talking about our concept, ethos and values. Rapport and interest in schools and communities grew because of this and in the first year Junk Kouture had 200 entrants.

In 2013 and after a strong uptake in Irish schools, the events were moved from hotels to theatres and arenas throughout Ireland. The increased interest in the competition saw participation numbers grow significantly, to the point where the national competition was split into five regional competitions.

In 2014, It was recognised nationally as one of the most exciting and creative youth engagement programmes in Ireland and with growing confidence, Junk Kouture held its first final in Dublin’s 3Arena, a venue which plays hosts to the biggest events, and acclaimed international stars.

In 2020, Junk Kouture was due to celebrate its tenth year in operation with its annual Grand Final showpiece scheduled for 30 April, in Dublin’s 3Arena venue. Having successfully completed its run of Regional Finals in early March 2020, Junk Kouture – like the rest of the live industry – fell victim to the effects of COVID-19 on live events, but the curtain didn’t fall on Junk Kouture as the team persevered to produce an equally wonderful alternative to their yearly live show. For the first time ever, the Junk Kouture Grand Final was televised, beaming the incredible designs of students into homes and showcasing the talented young people who waited so patiently throughout the pandemic for their moment to shine.

After 11 incredible years, Junk Kouture is expanding and going global with a 10-year ambition to enrich and empower the lives of a billion young people through creativity and sustainability. Junk Kouture’s World Tour will build momentum over the next three years.

Beginning in September 2021, the initial season will take place digitally in the UAE, USA, France, Italy, the UK and Ireland with entrants from each of those countries applying for their regional competition  ​before competing with their peers across the globe at the JK World Final next summer. Further digital shows in Tokyo, Aukland, Sydney, Sao Paulo, Los Angeles, Cape Town and Singapore will be added in 2022 with a transition back to the full Live Tour and shows being hosted in some of the most iconic venues around the world as we return to pre-Covid normality.”


“There is no such thing as junk in the world if you have imagination, courage, ideas and passion for making a difference in the world.

One person’s junk, is another persons hope.

If we all got together, across the world, scientists, teachers, children, politicians, designers, artists…. all of us, each and every one ….we could solve global warming and the many dangers facing us all and the future generations to come. We just need to believe, care, share inspiration and ambition – and make it happen. 

Do you think that this is true?”

Junk Kouture Logo UAE 2020 2021 2022 Hot Pink

“Most definitely. To help change the planet, we must awaken ourselves to the realisation that not all trash is waste – in fact if viewed in a new way it can be the ‘raw material’ for something new and wonderful. So therefore, by collectively challenging ourselves to be sustainable through creativity we can all help pull our planet back from the biggest crisis it has ever faced.”


“Why did you choose to bring the Junk Kouture programme to the UAE?”

Junk Kouture Logo UAE 2020 2021 2022 Hot Pink

“As part of Junk Kouture’s international expansion, a number of key territories were selected based on the prominence and growth of sustainability, and indeed fashion prowess. The UAE’s long-term commitment to creating positive sustainable change made it an important area for Junk Kouture. By bringing the programme to the UAE, Junk Kouture would be committing to help with its goals and objectives by presenting a creative way of learning and engaging with sustainability for young people.”


“How can I take part?! What do we need to do? What can schools, parents, teachers and students do individually to “make the difference”?”

Junk Kouture Logo UAE 2020 2021 2022 Hot Pink

“If you and your school are looking to take part in Junk Kouture from September, why not join a webinar to meet a member of the JK team to ask them your questions and to find out more about the processes involved in the creative programme.

Click here to learn more!

Junk Kouture - Official Webinar to learn about how Junk Kouture is set to transform education and the world across schools in the UAE

Junk Kouture 2021 Webinar and Event Wednesday

As an educator or school, if you’re already set to get involved, you can sign up your school’s participation here NOW!

And finally, there’s no time like the present to begin researching designers, techniques, inspiration and looking around you for waste materials ahead of September…why not get collecting now?!

We all have the power to make a difference by being aware of all the waste around us and recognising that not all waste has to be discarded.

By using your imagination and getting creative with upcycling and recycling and extending the life cycle of an item of clothing, a glass jar, a plastic bottle, whatever it might be we can all make an impact on our world.”


“Is it possible that a UAE school and students could really win, given the intense competition from across the world?”

Junk Kouture Logo UAE 2020 2021 2022 Hot Pink

“Of course! Each and every student has equal opportunity to take home the overall award at the Junk Kouture World Final in the summer of 2022 as long as they push the boundaries, use their imagination and creative talents to create that WOW factor that the judges look for.

The judges will also crown the UAE Designer of the Year along with several other awards such as The Most Unusual Material Award, The Glamour Award and The Teacher Hall of Fame Award therefore, there’s lots of opportunities for students and schools in the UAE to win.”


“What are the five top secret tips for success of schools and children entering for the competition?”

Junk Kouture Logo UAE 2020 2021 2022 Hot Pink

“Here are my absolutely top five tips for entering Junk Kouture and standing out:

  • Storytelling:

Try to tell a story through your Junk Kouture design. Are you passionate about climate change? Why not raise awareness for a specific issue through your creation. Here are just some examples – plastic pollution, habitat loss or the effects of the fast fashion industry. If you admire a particular fashion designer or artists work, you may want to play tribute to them – whatever your inspiration is, we want to know about it.

  • Innovation:

Thinking outside of the box can really help set your design apart from the rest. You can be innovative in choosing an unusual, recycled material to work with or by simply being innovative with the techniques you try out, the detail you add or how the silhouette of your design turns out.

  • Craftsmanship:

Remember that the judges will be looking at the quality of your design and the work shown, so don’t forget to add some finer details as your garment must look as good far away as it does up close.

  • Trial and Error:

When you have chosen your recycled material to work with, get experimenting with the manipulation of your new textile! Remember that things may not always work out the way you had envisioned but it’s through this trial and error process that you may find that you create something new and wonderful!

  • Mood Board:

By creating a mood board at the beginning of your designs journey, it can really help with the creative direction of your garment. Things you may want to include are your designs name, the colour scheme, your designs sketch, where on the design you want to include particular recycled materials, the design techniques you’re going to incorporate, your inspiration and the timelines you need to meet. By consistently reflecting back and adding to your mood board throughout the creative process it can really help keep you focused as you visually see what you’re trying to achieve and you never know, it may help spark new ideas.”


“Tell us about some of the most amazing things that have been created historically by students and schools.”

Junk Kouture Logo UAE 2020 2021 2022 Hot Pink

“Over the years, Junk Kouture has had so many extraordinary designs.

Here’s some that come to mind that might inspire your Kouture creation:


Ultra Violet Wash:

Junk Kouture Winner - Ultra Violet Wash Fashion

Created using clothes pegs and UV paint


  • The Rolling Stones:

Junk Kouture winner Rolling Stone

Created using nuts and bolts form an engineering factory.


  • Serenity:

Junk Kouture winner Serenity

Created using a 13ft trampoline matt.


  • Synergy:

Junk Kouture winner Synergy

Created using sea glass collected from a local beach and milk cartons.


  • Re’Juicing is Ap’pealing:

Junk Kouture winner Rejuicing

Created using orange peel that was dried out and sewn together.


  • Cinematic:

Junk Kouture winner Cinematic

Created using remnants from a family cinema including film reel and a chandelier


  • Wipe Out:

Junk Kouture winner Wipe Out

Created using 100’s of used makeup wipes


  • Element 13:

Created using 42K aluminium pull tabs from drinks cans


“Are there any limits to what we can use to make our designs, how big they can be, the technology we use in them? Could we attempt a world record?!”

 Junk Kouture Logo UAE 2020 2021 2022 Hot Pink

“The sky’s the limit when it comes to Junk Kouture and your imagination and creativity as long as you stick to our most important rule, that your design is created using only upcycled or recycled materials.

We have seen an array of spectacular creations over the years – from fairy lights in a design, to ginormous wings, props and wheels on shoes.

Junk Kouture angel wings in fashion - an exercise in structure in fashion

So get your creative juices flowing – there’s no limit to your imagination…”



“Can all children get involved, younger and older?”

Junk Kouture Logo UAE 2020 2021 2022 Hot Pink

“Currently, Junk Kouture is available to all young people in second level education between the ages of 13-18 years.

However, we are hoping to launch JK Junior for younger creative individuals very soon, so… watch this space!”


“Are there prizes?! “

Junk Kouture Logo UAE 2020 2021 2022 Hot Pink

“Yes, each year Junk Kouture has an array of awards and prizes up for grabs – something all students can strive towards. We offer incredible prizes such as attendance to prestigious events, memorable experiences, scholarships, vouchers and a monetary prize for the winning school.”

“What are the five most inspirational things about JK that can share with us.”

Junk Kouture Logo UAE 2020 2021 2022 Hot Pink

  • Many Junk Kouture alumni have gone on to work in Fashion Houses and start their own Fashion brands after coming through the programme. Examples: Stephen McLaughlin – SML London, here, Orla O’Hagan – Orla Vera Accessories, here.

  • Junk Kouture provides creative teenagers with a platform to display their talents. So often, it is students that take part in sport or music or dance that achieve social capital and recognition.

  • Junk Kouture wants to help creative teenagers outside those brackets, find their space.

  • Junk Kouture started as a small competition with 50 entries and grew to become one of the biggest youth events in Ireland, selling out a 5,000 seat arena every year.

  • Junk Kouture is an inclusive community and believes that everyone should have a platform to show their talents, regardless of their race, sexuality or status.


“In ten years, what life-changing things would you like JK to have achieved in the world and securing the future of our planet?”

Junk Kouture Logo UAE 2020 2021 2022 Hot Pink

“Junk Kouture wants to create a lasting positive impact, not only by encouraging young people in how they see waste and fashion, but by challenging them to think creatively and find solutions to real life problems.

The Junk Kouture community represents the leaders of tomorrow.”

Bottom Line? The Verdict on Junk Kouture Coming to the UAE.

As an educationalist, Junk Kouture is a dream come true, one promising to bring the classroom, and the wonder of education, to life in extraordinary ways. This is a project that has the promise to inspire the passions and fascination of students from every discipline – and to shine a light both on our amazing schools and the UAE. SchoolsCompared will be supporting Junk Kouture and its journey with young people across our schools. For all students and schools, please do contact us with your stories as you work through creating your unique solutions and creations  – we promise to support you in every way we can.

Junk Kouture is, in our view, such an amazing, absolutely beautiful project. The future of its success in the UAE is now down to each, and every one, of us.

Roll on the global final – and our chance to wow the world.

Who knows, we may just win.

Who amongst us would want to bet against our amazing, world class UAE schools and students doing just that….

© 2021. All rights reserved.


About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]

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