Crescent students transform junk into couture

May 28, 2024 in Featured News, News

Crescent College Comprehensive SJ entered the Junk Kouture competition for the first time this year » and succeeded in reaching the national finals. Thirty entries were selected by judges from a pool of eighty submissions nationwide to secure spots in the finals. Moate Community College won the competition nationally for 2023 and then won the competition worldwide.

Junk Kouture is an international creative competition that challenges young people to design and create high-fashion outfits from recycled materials. Established in Ireland in 2010, Junk Kouture aims to promote environmental sustainability, creativity, and innovation among secondary school students. The competition encourages participants to think critically about waste and resource use by transforming everyday junk into stunning, wearable art.

Under the guidance of their teacher, Cian Browne, Transition Year students Mia Ryan (designer and maker), Siofra Campbell (model and co-creator), Brooke Slattery, and Selena Kelly (co-creators) created an outfit called ‘Following Threads’ (See photo).

Mia explains that their design raises awareness about child labor. “Using our childhood costumes, we wove a collection of memories to spotlight the contrast between child’s play and child labor. The design threads, weaves, and knots experiences and memories that led us to empathise with the children who may have made the costumes we bought.”

The costumes were torn into strips and categorised by colour, texture, memory, and association. The varied strips of colour represent emotions and feelings (light purples represent love and romantic stories, while darker shades represent despair).

The twill and circular woven design tell their collective stories. The tie-dye knots represent tensions and challenges, while the fabric ladybirds (a symbol of protection in Irish folklore) symbolize the need to protect children. The buckles used on the back are straps from old school bags, representing the contrast between security and constraint (lack of access to resources and care). In storytelling, characters wearing black hats often have hidden agendas. Here, the hat symbolises unethical behavior within the fashion industry.

Brooke Slattery, co-creator, explains why she got involved: “I wanted to join Junk Kouture because I wanted to be part of something important, I wanted to bring awareness to bigger problems, and make friends with similar interests.”

Brooke’s reasons for getting involved are particularly interesting, according to Brendan Lunn, Ethos Coordinator at Crescent College. “Brooke talks about being part of something important. Having worked with young people in recent years you see a great eagerness among them to get involved in social justice issues, however, at times, they often feel powerless to bring about meaningful change. They expect rapid progress and are often disheartened by slow political processes,” he says.

Brooke also mentions making friends with similar interests, which is key according to Brendan. “Young people enjoy working together as it brings a sense of fun and excitement, as demonstrated by Mia, Siofra, Brooke, and Selena’s involvement in Junk Kouture. To address environmental and social issues, we must approach them collectively, whether through schools, clubs, or business organizations. The sense of community gained from working together is crucial, and students quickly learn through their school experience.”

Brendan also notes that schools are microcosms of society and they play a crucial role in fostering environmental and social justice awareness among children. “By nurturing social justice within the ethos of our Jesuit schools, students are empowered to become agents of positive change, embodying the Ignatian ideal of being men and women for others in service of a more just and sustainable world.” he concludes.