I Hope The New York Times Never Gets Rid of Its “Critical Shopper” Column

And maybe even lets Matthew Schneier keep writing it for a while.

Tuesdays used to be good, some time before now. Maybe that stopped when new-record releases and shifted to Fridays and newsdumps shifted to Every Single Day? Everything I read and consumed today, including the weird prepared quinoa salad from a juice bar in Downtown Brooklyn, was bad, with the exception of this very pleasant surprise: a delightful installment of one of the New York Times’s best columns, Critical Shopper, from Times Styles reporter Matthew Schneier:

Schneier tells us right upfront he is our “stopgap” correspondent, but I hope he stays on longer, because he’s written up his trip to The Mall Of The Future (Brookfield Place) with just the right mix of delight and wit necessary for the job. The piece contains fun and funny writing about wildly unaffordable clothes without dismissing the conceit entirely (a trap some critics tap dance all too readily into). Schneier toes the line between credulity and whatever the noun for “shrill” is (“shrall” gets my vote).

“Where would you wear these?” wondered Hannah, the girlfriend I enlisted to vet the Saks women’s assortment with me. She had in her hands a pair of Miu Miu slides, upholstered in a faux fuzz the color of Cookie Monster and topped with imitation pearls ($950). They were never meant for the touch of the subway platform.

Anyway the Times has a bad track record of killing things that are good, like blogs and sections devoted to bridge (the card game) and metro news. I just hope it doesn’t do that with this very frivolous-seeming but extremely important bit of recurring content. To me it’s like the “Tables for Two” of the Times—a perfect writing exercise; a piece of critical writing about an experience most people will never have, whether because they can’t afford to or because they don’t live nearby. It’s also a showcase for good writing from young guns. (Lol, hi.)

It wouldn’t be a love note to “Critical Shopper” without a shoutout to Cintra Wilson—the one, the only, the sassiest voice in shopping critically. I miss looking forward to her writing, whether it was about Thom Browne or J.C. Penney, because she made me feel something. Her opinions about specific items of clothing didn’t even have to be right or wrong, per se—they were just good and good to read. Here’s hoping we get more Schneier.