You never really think about someone buying a cane. I guess it just seems like one of those objects that’s magically around when you need it—like one day you get old, or one of your legs goes bad, and you dig around in the back of your coat closet until you find the one in there waiting for you. Of course, that’s not really how it works. And even if it were, I think I still might go out of my way to order one of these handsome walking sticks from Top & Derby.
They’re not like the canes you normally see these days, which are typically either old-school wooden things with brass horse-head handles or the cold metal numbers that look like members of the zimmer frame family. These canes are tasteful and functional, sure—but they’re a little bit funky, too.
Their shaft is made of American black walnut, capped with a sneaker-inspired rubber shoe. On top is a simple handle, designed to fit the hand comfortably and covered in silicone to prevent slipping when propped against the wall. It’s smaller than the traditional candy cane–style handle, too, which makes the whole thing a bit more discreet. "Our goal was to make it feel more like a fashion accessory and less like a mobility aid," says Gerrit de Vries, one of Top & Derby’s founders, "and I think we’ve achieved that."
The team wanted to build a product that looked less like a medical device and more like something people would feel good about carrying. As designer Matthew Kroeker explains, most options today completely ignore "the emotional aspect of carrying a cane." The ones you can buy at the store look like they came straight from the hospital, which I guess is why I’ve always imagined they did. They’re soulless, and they draw addition to the disability, rather than deflecting it. These canes, Kroeker hopes, will let their owners "strut their stuff with confidence and a little swagger."
The company’s currently running an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for production. For $70 you can reserve one of the first units. "Even if you don’t need a cane, you can still use it to putt, play air guitar, or sword fight," they point out. Or you could just stick it in your closet until you do need one.