The Insider: Edith Zimmerman
And her infamous leggings.
When we interview people for this column, The Hairpin often comes up on the shortlist of favorite reads. (It’s on ours, too!) So to say we were excited to talk to Edith Zimmerman, who founded that witty, smart, and thoughtful site two years ago, is, well, a ginormous understatement. Here, we rack the NYer’s brain on everything Hairpin—and get a really awesome crazy-leggings story out of her, too. —jiayi
Q: How did The Hairpin come about?
A: I had been writing for The Awl, which is also a general-interest site, and when they had the opportunity to start a sister-site, they approached me about running it. I was terrified, but super excited.
Q: Where does the name come from?
A: When we were getting started, I was going through this mad race to find a relevant name that wasn’t taken or stupid. There must’ve been dozens of potentials, but I came up with The Hairpin because it was available and seemed sort of feminine but also prickly. I kept coming up with names—but when it was time to flip the switch on the site, we just went with The Hairpin, because we hadn’t come up with a better one.
Q: People point to The Hairpin as a source for really great longform writing. Did you intend for it to go that way?
A: One thing that was important for me at the beginning—and it still is—is that the balance between long and short things never be overwhelming. I like featuring longer pieces because people love to read them, and there’s been some really wonderful longform writers who we’ve featured. But if we were to run long things all day, every day, it’d probably be overwhelming. I like this idea that if you were a casual reader, you could come to the site and consume everything on it in one day without being overwhelmed or left thinking that you were supposed to be reading it in a way you’re not.
Q: Would you ever take The Hairpin print?
A: No. I think what’s made it successful so far is the interaction with readers and commenters. A lot of what people come to the site for now, aside from the content—and I’m so lucky and grateful for this—is the funny, smart, and insightful comments that appear below the pieces. Without that, it’d be much drier. There’s almost a 3D aspect to it. And I think there’d be a danger in trying to translate some of that to the page.
Q: How would you describe your clothing style?
A: I…wear the same thing a lot. I really wish uniforms were more celebrated in life. I do not relish getting dressed. I’ll wear a different shirt than I wore yesterday, but ugh. I usually go with skinny jeans, boots, and an oversized shirt or something.
Q: Do you own any Of a Kind editions?
A: I just got the Ernest Alexander bag. I’ve been using it every day, and I love it.
Q: What’s the best fashion advice anyone’s given you?
A: My friend Jane Marie, who runs The Hairpin with me, is very good at this. She encourages me to try new things, because the worst that can happen is never that bad. I was visiting her in L.A. recently—we went to this boutique, where there was this pair of leggings that I don’t even know how to describe. They’re insane. They’re in all these neon colors with this ridiculous harlequin pattern. These are neon leggings, right? Which is the last thing I’d ever buy or wear. But she told me I had to get them, because I’m usually so unadventurous, and I was like, “Ok,” because they were pretty cheap. I thought I’d never wear them, but then a month later, I was in Vegas for her bachelorette party, and I figured if I was ever going to wear these ridiculous pants, a bachelorette party in Vegas was the way to go. And I did, and they were perfect.
Portrait by Nick D’Emilio.
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