3 Ways Junk Kouture Are Making Waves With Youth Empowerment Through Sustainable Fashion

We recently talked to Troy Armour, founder, and CEO of Junk KoutureThe organization aims to educate, enrich, and empower the lives of young people through creativity and sustainability. They do this by hosting the world’s largest youth sustainable fashion competition where students from all over the world see who can make the most striking outfit made out of 100% recycled material. Furthermore, they also use the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as their guide to deliver on six of the goals by 2030. This article explores Armour and his start of the organization, it’s successes so far, and how he hopes to continue delivering on its promise of promoting youth empowerment and sustainable fashion to the masses.

Despite their current trajectory, Junk Kouture wasn’t always on such a clear path. Even in 2018, when the organization had a revenue of a million dollars and could count 52% of all Irish secondary schools as part of its annual sustainable fashion competitions, under the surface, it wasn’t in a good place. Ultimately, it came down to Armour. With three other companies pulling him in different directions, he came to the realization that he was the weakest link. If he wanted to deliver on the vision of what Junk Kouture could be, he really needed to commit to it with all hands on deck. With that, the decision was made: letting go of his other ventures, Armour chose to focus on enriching and empowering the lives of young people through creativity and sustainability.

The first step towards the goal was adjusting Junk Kouture’s business model. With a keen interest in Formula One, Armour decided to model themselves after Formula E, a lesser-known organization focusing on racing more sustainable, electric cars. In 2020, Armour and the team decided to start running global tours for seven to eight months a year, with schools from 35 different countries taking part in competitions across six nations. With this, Junk Kouture was closer to promoting youth empowerment and sustainable fashion than they’d ever been. In the following sections, let’s take a look at some of the other changes they’ve made so far. 

Some of Junk Kouture’s Achievements 

  • Recipient of the MIPTV SDG INNOVATION Award for its creative approach to advancing several UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

  • Recipient of The Ocean Hero Award at the Footprint Sustainability Summit in Phoenix, Arizona.  

  • Competitions so far held in six major cities: Abu Dhabi, Dublin, London, Milan, New York, and Paris.

1. How Are Junk Kouture Reinventing Themselves?

While building a rollout plan for their global competition tours, Armour decided they needed to make a fundamental change if they were going to succeed. Up until then, all of Junk Kouture’s thought processes started and ended in Ireland. As of 2020, the decision was made to put a headstone on Junk Kouture Ireland and think on a more global scale, which essentially translated to going back to square one with no projected sales at all. Year one of going global consisted of building a revenue stream. By the end of the fiscal year, they’d made a revenue of $1.29 million and a loss of around $1 million, which was funded through seed capital investments. The following year, revenue traveled to $3.6 million. The target this year is to grow to around $6 million. The organization is actively raising a Series A to aid in this, with hopes of amassing $5 million over the next two years.

2. Bringing Sustainable Fashion To The World 

Aside from increasing their revenue stream, Junk Kouture is also seeking to expand its sustainable fashion shows beyond its current roster of the US and the Middle East. With money raised from Series A, plans are in motion to onboard schools and tap into seven markets from Africa to Asia. On the list are Tokyo, Sydney, Mumbai, Singapore, Cape Town, Los Angeles and Sau Paulo. This will allow Junk Kouture to really promote youth empowerment in all four corners of the globe.

Improving The Global Market’s Share Of Sustainable Clothing

One of the biggest challenges of spreading the use of sustainable fashion has to do with the formula that capital rewards consumption. This formula is the foundation of the world’s economics at the moment, but unless we find another way to measure ROI, improving something like the global market’s share of sustainable clothing will be extremely difficult.

This might sound a little confusing at first, but ultimately, what it comes down to is a key concept Armour understands. Namely, the relationship between the circle of the economy and the circle of nature. 

The Circle Of The Economy

Anyone looking to invest in a business is always looking for a return on that investment. Usually, that return is determined by how many consumers consume said company’s product. So to illustrate this idea of the circle of the economy, let’s consider a company like Apple.

  • You buy shares in Apple because their profits are going up →

  • Your share price is going to rocket because they make more profit i.e. sell more phones →

  • They consume more natural resources because they sell more phones → 

On and on the circle of economy flows, and how it flows for Apple is the same for how it flows in the fashion industry. By then considering the statistic of how the global apparel market share of sustainable clothing items is only expected to increase from 3.9% in 2021 to 6% in 2026, who in their right mind is going to invest in a business that’s inherently unprofitable?

The Circle Of Nature 

The circle of nature, on the other hand, flows on another trajectory.

  • Plants grow/People are born →

  • Plants die/People live and die → 

  • Plants return to nature/People return to nature →

The relationship between the circle of the economy and the circle of nature then is that we’ve grown the circle of economy by consuming the circle of nature. Economic gain is favored above all else, and until that changes, spreading something like sustainable fashion won’t be possible. We’ll end up consuming ourselves off a cliff. 

How Do We Spread Sustainable Fashion?

Understanding then the relationship between the circle of the economy and the circle of nature, how do we go about spreading sustainable fashion? 

To Armour, one area we need to start with is redefining GDP. Currently, GDP comprises four pillars of financial measurement. Rather than continuing to only measure these four pillars, Armour suggests including people and nature into the calculations. This would then be filtered down into companies and people, with some kind of reward in place for those that have high GDPs. 

However, redefining this macroeconomic formula alone won’t be enough to see a significant change in a sustainable fashion. To Armour, the success of it all depends on whether enough children can be educated on the issue so they can carry out the necessary tasks. This is why he sees reaching a billion kids as Junk Kouture’s long-term goal. Similar to the circle of the economy and the circle of nature, anything Armour and the organization do can and will be passed onto the next generation. It’s why today they’re planting seeds for tomorrow and it’s why they have as strong a belief in youth empowerment as they do in sustainable fashion. 

Subscribe to the Voice of Sustainability

Get monthly newsletter with impact stories from around the World and news from SUSTAINOVA.

Subscribe to the Voice of Sustainability

Get monthly newsletter with impact stories from around the World and news from SUSTAINOVA.

3 Ways Junk Kouture Are Making Waves With Youth Empowerment Through Sustainable Fashion

We recently talked to Troy Armour, founder, and CEO of Junk KoutureThe organization aims to educate, enrich, and empower the lives of young people through creativity and sustainability. They do this by hosting the world’s largest youth sustainable fashion competition where students from all over the world see who can make the most striking outfit made out of 100% recycled material. Furthermore, they also use the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as their guide to deliver on six of the goals by 2030. This article explores Armour and his start of the organization, it’s successes so far, and how he hopes to continue delivering on its promise of promoting youth empowerment and sustainable fashion to the masses.

Despite their current trajectory, Junk Kouture wasn’t always on such a clear path. Even in 2018, when the organization had a revenue of a million dollars and could count 52% of all Irish secondary schools as part of its annual sustainable fashion competitions, under the surface, it wasn’t in a good place. Ultimately, it came down to Armour. With three other companies pulling him in different directions, he came to the realization that he was the weakest link. If he wanted to deliver on the vision of what Junk Kouture could be, he really needed to commit to it with all hands on deck. With that, the decision was made: letting go of his other ventures, Armour chose to focus on enriching and empowering the lives of young people through creativity and sustainability.

The first step towards the goal was adjusting Junk Kouture’s business model. With a keen interest in Formula One, Armour decided to model themselves after Formula E, a lesser-known organization focusing on racing more sustainable, electric cars. In 2020, Armour and the team decided to start running global tours for seven to eight months a year, with schools from 35 different countries taking part in competitions across six nations. With this, Junk Kouture was closer to promoting youth empowerment and sustainable fashion than they’d ever been. In the following sections, let’s take a look at some of the other changes they’ve made so far. 

Some of Junk Kouture’s Achievements 

  • Recipient of the MIPTV SDG INNOVATION Award for its creative approach to advancing several UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

  • Recipient of The Ocean Hero Award at the Footprint Sustainability Summit in Phoenix, Arizona.  

  • Competitions so far held in six major cities: Abu Dhabi, Dublin, London, Milan, New York, and Paris.

1. How Are Junk Kouture Reinventing Themselves?

While building a rollout plan for their global competition tours, Armour decided they needed to make a fundamental change if they were going to succeed. Up until then, all of Junk Kouture’s thought processes started and ended in Ireland. As of 2020, the decision was made to put a headstone on Junk Kouture Ireland and think on a more global scale, which essentially translated to going back to square one with no projected sales at all. Year one of going global consisted of building a revenue stream. By the end of the fiscal year, they’d made a revenue of $1.29 million and a loss of around $1 million, which was funded through seed capital investments. The following year, revenue traveled to $3.6 million. The target this year is to grow to around $6 million. The organization is actively raising a Series A to aid in this, with hopes of amassing $5 million over the next two years.

2. Bringing Sustainable Fashion To The World 

Aside from increasing their revenue stream, Junk Kouture is also seeking to expand its sustainable fashion shows beyond its current roster of the US and the Middle East. With money raised from Series A, plans are in motion to onboard schools and tap into seven markets from Africa to Asia. On the list are Tokyo, Sydney, Mumbai, Singapore, Cape Town, Los Angeles and Sau Paulo. This will allow Junk Kouture to really promote youth empowerment in all four corners of the globe.

Improving The Global Market’s Share Of Sustainable Clothing

One of the biggest challenges of spreading the use of sustainable fashion has to do with the formula that capital rewards consumption. This formula is the foundation of the world’s economics at the moment, but unless we find another way to measure ROI, improving something like the global market’s share of sustainable clothing will be extremely difficult.

This might sound a little confusing at first, but ultimately, what it comes down to is a key concept Armour understands. Namely, the relationship between the circle of the economy and the circle of nature. 

The Circle Of The Economy

Anyone looking to invest in a business is always looking for a return on that investment. Usually, that return is determined by how many consumers consume said company’s product. So to illustrate this idea of the circle of the economy, let’s consider a company like Apple.

  • You buy shares in Apple because their profits are going up →

  • Your share price is going to rocket because they make more profit i.e. sell more phones →

  • They consume more natural resources because they sell more phones → 

On and on the circle of economy flows, and how it flows for Apple is the same for how it flows in the fashion industry. By then considering the statistic of how the global apparel market share of sustainable clothing items is only expected to increase from 3.9% in 2021 to 6% in 2026, who in their right mind is going to invest in a business that’s inherently unprofitable?

The Circle Of Nature 

The circle of nature, on the other hand, flows on another trajectory.

  • Plants grow/People are born →

  • Plants die/People live and die → 

  • Plants return to nature/People return to nature →

The relationship between the circle of the economy and the circle of nature then is that we’ve grown the circle of economy by consuming the circle of nature. Economic gain is favored above all else, and until that changes, spreading something like sustainable fashion won’t be possible. We’ll end up consuming ourselves off a cliff. 

How Do We Spread Sustainable Fashion?

Understanding then the relationship between the circle of the economy and the circle of nature, how do we go about spreading sustainable fashion? 

To Armour, one area we need to start with is redefining GDP. Currently, GDP comprises four pillars of financial measurement. Rather than continuing to only measure these four pillars, Armour suggests including people and nature into the calculations. This would then be filtered down into companies and people, with some kind of reward in place for those that have high GDPs. 

However, redefining this macroeconomic formula alone won’t be enough to see a significant change in a sustainable fashion. To Armour, the success of it all depends on whether enough children can be educated on the issue so they can carry out the necessary tasks. This is why he sees reaching a billion kids as Junk Kouture’s long-term goal. Similar to the circle of the economy and the circle of nature, anything Armour and the organization do can and will be passed onto the next generation. It’s why today they’re planting seeds for tomorrow and it’s why they have as strong a belief in youth empowerment as they do in sustainable fashion. 

Subscribe to the Voice of Sustainability

Get monthly newsletter with impact stories from around the World and news from SUSTAINOVA.