Atlantic Technological University (ATU) fashion students are in the world spotlight this week for their creative work on the awards presented at the world finals of Junk Kouture in Abu Dhabi.

Emer Mc Laughlin and Lara-Jane Doherty provided the illustrations for the trophies, which were designed to be upcycled from discarded materials

The collaboration shares values and objectives to facilitate innovative design for a more sustainable future.

In keeping with the Junk Kouture sustainability goals, the trophies were created from Covid transparent screens, the black supports around the screens (used for the base) and a discarded sheet of black acrylic from the photography studio for the award name plaques.

Junk Kouture began 12 years ago as a small independent fashion competition for local secondary schools in the northwest of Ireland by Buncrana-based entrepreneurs Troy Armour and Elizabeth O’Donnell. The company offers schools and students a creative way to become involved in active climate change initiatives, empowering them to lasting behavioural change. They are champions for constantly evolving the educational materials available to both educators and students on issues of sustainability and circular economies to encourage students to look beyond their Junk Kouture project and begin to apply the knowledge learned to all aspects of their lives. Junk Kouture is now the world’s largest youth sustainable fashion competition.

Megan Kelly, ATU graduate and Director of Global Events and Production at Junk Kouture says: “With Junk Kouture’s routes in Donegal and with my personal connection to the college studying the MS, Marketing Practice, it’s fantastic to see a collaboration with the Donegal campus of ATU for the Junk Kouture World Final in Abu Dhabi, and for us to showcase the work of the Department of Design & Creative Media through the special commission of our World final awards ceremony. Sixteen beautifully crafted sustainable and creative pieces that are now presented in winning schools across the globe”.

ATU Donegal BA (Hons) Fashion Design with Promotion graduate Niamh Porter, a strong advocate and designer for circular fashion is the Social Media Manager for Junk Kouture recognised the connection and reached out to ATU: “I think it is really fitting to have our third level designers and team in the fashion and engineering departments design awards in recognition of the innovative design work from students in secondary level for Junk Kouture. We are all working towards the same objective and ATU is the perfect place for these students to progress their study”, says Niamh.

There were 16 trophies designed for categories including – World Designer, Purposeful Plastic, Best Performance, Wearable Art, Dre to Wear, Best Make-up, Innovation, Cultural Couture, Glamour, Junior Designer. There were also six trophies representing the six cities, Abu Dhabi, London, Paris, Dublin, New York and Milan.

Sharon Maxwell, ATU Donegal, Design and Creative Media lecturer was delighted to work with fashion students Emer Mc Laughlin and Lara-Jane Doherty on this project: “Working with Junk Kouture is a natural fit for our students who are passionate about progressing circular fashion solutions. Their illustrations worked perfectly for the trophies and the students were delighted to have their work recognised by Junk Kouture.”

This project was supported by Dean Harron, Dr Charles Young and Johnathan Morrow from the ATU Donegal Department of Mechanical and Electronic Engineering to realise the designs. The trophies were constructed with exceptional problem-solving skills and laser engraved with sponsor’s names by Design Technician Michael Tinney. The polycarbonate shapes and coloured prints used on the back shards were inspired by shapes taken from inspirational buildings from each of the 6 cities.

Since the inception of ATU in April 2022, Junk Kouture have been working across the new university’s campuses in Donegal, Sligo, Galway and Mayo on several collaborative projects, one of which included the recycling of out-dated promotional marketing material direct to post-primary schools participating in the Junk Kouture competition. The ATU campuses donated brochures, promotional merchandise and other reusable materials to second-level students competing in Junk Kouture 2023.

The awards were presented on Wednesday night, 11 January as Junk Kouture Abu Dhabi hosted a night of creativity, performance, talent and live music, celebrating young people and the circular engineers of tomorrow.