It is highly debatable whether this trend actually means that "real geeks" are more popular than they were previously, or if it merely represents a superficial addition of "nerdy" elements to current fashion trends. Many elements that arguably define "geekiness", such as varying degrees of social awkwardness, mathematical ability, strong interest in science and/or science fiction and Fantasy, and varying degrees of uninterest in one's personal appearance, remain unfashionable. Similar trends have often occurred in the past; for example, French Orientalism and exoticism of the 19th century incorporated visual elements from Asian and African cultures, but did not necessarily imply that people from these cultures were themselves viewed as fashionable.
Some agree that the concept was born sometime during the mid 1990s, there is no consensus as to who originated it and where. It is often assumed that it was created by "real geeks" in an attempt to suppress their widely perceived public image as dull, introverted, and academic. However, there is a noticeable lack of prominent representatives in science and other geek-oriented professions who visibly sport geek chic images. Most, if not all celebrity exponents of geek chic have emerged from the entertainment field. Actor David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who, has described the look of his character as geek chic.
Aside from eyeglasses, it is also debatable as to whether the geek chic fashion actually borrows at all from the stereotypical geek image which is based on lack of fashion sense, or more specifially an overtly studious, academic appearance, hence the so-called "Poindexter" look. Instead, much of the geek chic image borrows from various alternative youth fashions such as emo, goth, hippie, and bohemian amongst others. Although, t-shirts with computer programming in-jokes seems to originate from the widespread Hollywood depiction of Silicon Valley employees and other computer geeks. This exaggeration is based on the more casual dress code enforced in many such companies although in reality, this is still mostly limited to business appropriate attire .