BOI Junk Kouture Overall Winner 2017 - Enigmatic

Bank of Ireland Junk Kouture Overall Winner 2017 - Enigmatic

Since September last year, Sara Ryan, operations manager at Junk Kouture, has been working full-time in Bank of Ireland’s office in the IFSC in Dublin – a move that epitomises the true collaborative nature of this partnership which has turned a small, local initiative into a nationwide programme.

Bank of Ireland Junk Kouture encourages second-level students to create fashion designs and works of wearable art from junk that would normally go in the bin.

When Junk Kouture was founded by Troy Armour and Elizabeth O’Donnell in 2009, 100 students took part in the inaugural event in a hotel in Buncrana, Co Donegal. Bank of Ireland first sponsored the competition in 2011 and over the years the partnership has evolved with extra layers being added year on year.

Now reaching over 60% of secondary schools on the island of Ireland, there were over 1,800 entries to this year’s competition and 6,500 people attended the sell-out grand finale events at the 3 Arena in Dublin last June.

Bank of Ireland was looking for new ways to engage with young people when it came across Junk Kouture. “The magic was already there. It enabled young people to work in teams in their local community and make something beautiful,” says Laura Lynch, head of segments at the bank. “What appealed to us was that Junk Kouture wasn’t just about design and recycling, but also performance, choreography and project management.”

Armour and O’Donnell wanted to grow the concept but didn’t have the resources. Bank of Ireland had the answer – it could leverage its network of 280 branches to promote and support the competition and its team of 29 dedicated youth coordinators could visit schools and encourage them to enter.

“We already had an army on the ground and knew there were students and art teachers looking for new programmes and projects to get involved in,” says Lynch. “Even though the competition has grown to be national, the local engagement is what makes it special. Branches get fully behind it. Amongst other things, they showcase designs during National Enterprise Week and host teachers at the events.”

The partners have built on this strong foundation with new ideas every year to amplify the impact of Bank of Ireland Junk Kouture. These have included taking over the foyer of the 3 Arena on the day of the event with a full activation of speakers and events. “Teams were arriving in the morning and hanging around all day. We decided to have a range of activities in the foyer, including a silent disco, games and the opportunity to meet the judges, make-up bloggers and social media bloggers,” says Lynch. “Over 5,000 students took part in one or more of these activities this year.”

Having Ryan based at Bank of Ireland has made it easier for the partners to bounce ideas off each other and bring them to fruition. For example, they introduced online tutorials last year for the first time. These tutorials guide students on all aspects of the competition from the use of materials through to highlighting what different judges such as Louis Walsh and Una Healy look out for.

Bank of Ireland employee Ciara Armstrong now works full-time on the competition and sits beside Ryan in the office. “We both know what the other has to achieve and it is easier for me to keep in line with Bank of Ireland’s brand and what it wants from the partnership,” says Ryan. “One of the most successful activations has been our ticket incentive, which allows students to attend the Grand Finale for free if they open a bank account.”

Design by New Graphic.