If you wanted to explain the way a certain kind of very online tastemaking works in 2024 to an alien, or a 45-year-old, you could do a lot worse than showing them Perfectly Imperfect.
Since starting early in the pandemic, the Substack newsletter, along with its popular Instagram account, has become a kind of Debrett’s for a clout-chasing universe of Lower Manhattan influencers, podcasters, “it” girls, artists, scribblers, memesters, scenesters and a ubiquitous young man named Zack Bia. (There is also the occasional bona fide celebrity.) Each entry consists of a guest recommending stuff: books, films, records and clothes, but also states of mind, courses of action, exercise routines.
It’s the ne plus ultra of a thriving online recommendation culture that emphasizes subjective personal taste and limited (by internet standards, anyway) distribution over Consumer Reports-esque standardization and mass dissemination. It has inspired imitators, like Dream Baby Press’s Love/Hate lists, which feature a similar range of pseudo-celebrity guests. And now, Perfectly Imperfect is starting a social network that’s open to anyone, whether or not they have ever had a martini at the River.
“Everyone wants to feel like their taste is important,” said Tyler Bainbridge, one of the site’s editors.