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Lightning players entrust The Heart Hatter with their stories, style

Tampa Bay Times logo Tampa Bay Times 3/15/2022 Mari Faiello, Tampa Bay Times
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, back left, and defenseman Ryan McDonagh walk into Nashville's Nissan Stadium for their Stadium Series game wearing denim and hats created personally for them by artist Logan Miles Allison. © Eduardo A. Encina/Tampa Bay Times/TNS Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, back left, and defenseman Ryan McDonagh walk into Nashville's Nissan Stadium for their Stadium Series game wearing denim and hats created personally for them by artist Logan Miles Allison.

TAMPA — It was hard to miss the Lightning players as they shuffled off the bus in Nashville last month ahead of their first outdoor game.

They donned Canadian tuxedos and western hats walking into Nissan Stadium, a statement look for a statement event. But it wasn’t just their denim-on-denim look that caught attention.

Players like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Pat Maroon, Ryan McDonagh and Brayden Point stood out with specialty hats that one would be hard pressed to find inside of a Boot Barn store.

The hats, created by fashion designer and artist Logan Miles Allison, showcased their personalities in a unique way, drawing on life stories and moments that carry meaning.

“I think Logan’s an inspiration to a lot of people and he does a lot of good in this world,” Maroon said. “Those hats are amazing and his work’s amazing, but I think the time and effort that he puts in before even making the hat is what it’s all about.”

A workshop on wheels

Allison’s workshop isn’t a fancy building with a permanent address. Instead it’s a black 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van with more than 147,000 miles. It also doubles as the Frisco, Texas, native’s home on wheels.

Inside is where all the magic happens. The cramped quarters don’t hinder his style as he works with two sewing machines and other mediums to turn beaver and rabbit fur — usually about 50 pelts per hat — into “perfectly imperfect” works of art that typically start at $2,000.

Tired of the traditional cowboy hat look that didn’t fit his personal “black sheep” style of tattoos, dreadlocks and earrings, Allison created a heart-shaped cap, drawing on the symbol of love.

He patented the work — six different heart-inspired crowns — and became known as “The Heart Hatter.” Since launching the brand three years ago, Allison, 31, has crafted more than 750 personalized hats. His growing client list includes rapper Lil’ Wayne, famed YouTuber Logan Paul and numerous NFL players.

Stitch by stitch, Allison strives to make an impact through his art, connecting with people across the United States on an intimate level.

When Allison is working with a client, he travels to them. They sit down in an interview-like setting and get to know each other, sharing personal stories that don’t typically come up on a first meeting. He finds a way to break down walls.

“As detailed and as deep as somebody wants to go, I’m there to listen...,” Allison said. “I really want to know the deepest darkest things that people have overcome. We all have adversity, and we all have to overcome some type of adversity so that we can have a voice.”

A special meeting

In 2021, Allison was working with Tampa-based artist Jason Skeldon on some new pieces, expanding his “Heart Hatter” line into canvas creations. Through Skeldon, Allison met Vasilevskiy.

“Everybody has such a different story, and that’s what I’ve really wanted to pull out of people is their story so they can get a practice round with me and go share it with the world,” Allison said.

Allison measured Vasilevskiy’s head to perfection, using a wooden conformature that takes into account every bump and divot. After their conversation, he spent five days working on the Lightning goalie’s newest accessory.

Vasilevskiy’s hat included embossed lightning bolts, a personal quote written in Russian around the brim, a royal blue band for accent and three crosses for his Russian Orthodox Christian faith.

It didn’t take long for Vasilevskiy’s look to catch attention around the locker room, sparking interest from Maroon, who was hooked immediately on the creative process and how Allison could take an interaction and create something so meaningful.

“I think the biggest thing that struck me was how he sits down, he has a notepad, and he’s like, ‘Give me things that mean the most to you, that are inspirations to you, and nicknames and life stories and what’s this mean to you, why does that mean that to you,’” said Maroon, who ordered his first hat in time for the 2021-22 season opener.

“I think that’s where his artistic talent is really good because he makes you feel passionate about it.”

Accessorizing the Lightning players

Maroon’s first hat (a light cream-colored crown and brim with a black band and teal accent) reflected his life: his nickname “Big Rig;” his wife, Francesca and two children, 13-year-old Anthony and newborn Goldie; and a cross for his Christian beliefs.

The veteran forward had never been involved in creating his own style quite like that, which made it easy to repeat business before the team’s trip to Nashville for the Stadium Series. This time, however, he had additional orders for Allison, who was tasked with creating three hats for the team’s first outdoor game.

For the special game, Allison and Maroon wanted to go with a darker tone that gave off a more western feel. The final product was an all-black hat accented with cream-colored western tokens and a pair of feathers on the band. It’s rougher edge spoke to Maroon’s personality.

“This guy reminds me of, if Clint Eastwood was a hockey player, the baddest gunslinger in the wild west, yet the guy behind closed doors is the nicest teddy bear,” Allison said of Maroon. “Like, I have to take care of my family and this and this, but when game time comes around, (he’s like) a good commander.”

With McDonagh’s brown hat, Allison wanted to reflect his grounded, sharp personality but also the “splash of craziness” — mirrored with a splash of black and blue paint — when he gets to be himself.

Allison took McDonagh’s immediate family members and put each of their initials under the brim along with the initials “MT” for McDonagh’s nickname (“Mac Truck”) and part of the University of Wisconsin logo, his alma mater.

“He’s very sharp, he’s very well put-together, he’s not going to say something wrong,” Allison said of McDonagh. “But he’s also, if you can get him by himself, he’s the guy who’s going to say something loud, and rambunctious, but really fun.”

For Point, Allison was touched by the All-Star forward’s desire to provide for his family and his diligence both in the game and in life. Allison inscribed “provide” with capital P-R-O on the under brim along with “Bring the stampede!” in honor of his hometown of Calgary, known as “Stampede City” for its annual summer rodeo.

“He has to be a pro in every aspect of his life,” Allison said. “...When you bring the stampede, everyone comes with you.”

Allison’s penchant for connecting with people and expressing their personalities through his art have led to new friendships, like the one he has with Maroon.

“He’s such an inspiration to life, positivity, good energy to be around and he means the world to a lot of people,” Maroon said. “... In that industry, you have to take the time and you have to have a mind of your own to be creative.”

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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