Fashion is big business - if you can keep up with the trends! Can you help a boutique owner stock up with the Next Big Thing, or will they end up with a shop full of Old Hat?


The aim of Fashionista is for pupils to investigate the mathematics behind fashion trends. Using the '‘Trendsetter'’ (software that has been designed for the Case Study), pupils run simulations of buying patterns in a fictitious shop over an eight-week period and analyse these through the use of charts and graphs; they can do this either including a price variable or without it. Using census population statistics, pupils can then work out how much stock they would need to buy in order to satisfy consumer demand for a particular trend within their own town or region.

Mathematical content

This case study provides opportunities for pupils to work on Key Concepts and Key Processes in the KS3 National Curriculum Programmes of Study; in addition it involves specific content within Handling data.

The materials are most suited for pupils working between levels 4-6, although the nature of the interactive elements also allows a more exploratory approach for lower attaining or younger pupils. Pupils use the software to explore the effects of varying values and look for patterns and trends. They will take account of feedback to support them to work logically towards results and conclusions.

(Details of the Concepts and Processes addressed and the Range and Content are included in the Lesson Guide.)

Organisation and pedagogy

The Fashionista case study supports 1-2 one hour lessons of classroom activity with the option for related homework activities. A mixture of whole class and small group work is involved.

Teachers might want to devote a single lesson to Trendsetter, exploring Trendsetter 1 and 2 from a largely mathematical perspective.

Alternatively, the activity can be split over two lessons, dealing with Trendsetter 1 and Trendsetter 2 in turn and the different issues raised by each. Another approach for two lessons might be to encourage pupils to think about and discuss some of the sociological issues associated with fashion trends (and perhaps other trends more generally). There are some potential discussion points in the Lesson Guide.

In keeping with the ethos of the Bowland Maths approach, the role of the teacher is to set pupils realistic targets, challenge them to think and reason for themselves and to manage discussions and plenary reporting sessions. Only as a last resort should techniques be demonstrated. Throughout, the goal is to develop pupils' ability to work and think independently.

Resources provided

The software comprises:

  • A short introductory film –- about what it is like to run a fashion store.
  • Trendsetter 1 -– a simulation that considers age range and fashion items.
  • Trendsetter 2 -– a simulation that considers age range, fashion items and price range.

The following print materials can be accessed through the software:

  • Lesson Guide -– for teachers – read the guide first, as it contains more details than this overview.
  • Planning Sheet -– to encourage pupils to record their hypothesis and plan their work.
  • Report Sheet –- pupils use a sheet to present their findings.
  • Graph Sheets -– to create graphs to support pupils’ analysis and communicate their findings.
  • Trend Sample Snapshot -– to explore the visual patterns revealed by the growth of the trend.
  • Predicting Trends - How Many To Buy? –- contains the link to the 2001 Census data from which pupils can obtain population demographic data for their region or town.

Excel or Fathom could be used instead of the Graph Sheet or Trend Sample Snapshot – you can also export data from Trendsetter into Excel from the '‘Data & graph’' section.

Resource requirements

(including hardware & software)

  • The teacher will need a computer with data projector (or interactive whiteboard), sound output and speakers. The software is suitable for a Windows PC or an Apple Mac.
  • Pupils will need access to the Fashionista software: one computer for each small group of pupils is preferable (speakers or headphones are not essential for this).

The software can be run directly from the Bowland Maths website, or you can download the case study and copy it to the computer(s) you will be using during the lesson, or to the school network.

The software requires a modern web browser with Adobe Flash Player installed. Windows users will also need Adobe Reader to view and print resources. These are both available for free download from

  • Pupils will need copies of the Planning and Report sheets, and other handouts as required.
Note: When printing PDF files, Please make sure that ‘'page scaling'’ is set to '‘none'’, '‘no scaling’' or '‘100%’' to ensure that diagrams are printed to scale.