Hockey star Eric Blum
The Mad Hatter of Ice
Most people know Eric Blum as a former hockey star. What many people don’t know: the man from Zurich and his business partner have been running a successful hat and leather goods brand for about five years now, which musicians like Bligg and Marc Sway are sending out to the world.
Top athletes and fashion designers? While other sports stars start brands but don’t help themselves, Eric Blum has mastered the craft of hat making for his career as a hockey pro.
Laszlo SchneiderEditor of People
Yes, the comparison with the “crazy hat maker” (German “crazy hat maker”) from the novel “Alice in Wonderland” is easy – and yes: Eric Blum (36) can testify to a certain amount of madness. Why should a top athlete like Zurich start a fashion brand during his successful career?
One thing is clear: Blum’s plan, which he created in parallel with the ice cream and constantly developed, is working – the 36-year-old man has led the hat and leather goods brand Onkai Heiwa together with business partner Luca Meier (33) since 2017. Belts and bags drawn straight into the fairy-tale world. Stars like rapper Bligg (46) and musician Marc Sway (43) (as Duo Blay) or hockey colleague Roman Josi (32) are already bringing the label’s creations to the wider world – and it shouldn’t stop there.
Blick meets founder Blum at his studio in Zurich’s Wiedikon fashion district. In the front part of the premises, the duo presents hats and leather haberdashery, in the back part is a workshop where they fulfill customers’ wishes in orderly chaos. Blum’s fascination stems from his Japanese grandfather – he says he always wore hats. He picked up other pieces at flea markets, embellished them with ribbons and made them unique – he soon knew, “I want to do this professionally!”
The “hat face” thing.
Each – admittedly not exactly cheap – wish wanders across Blum’s workbench, and then the detailed work begins: “It always takes me one to two hours to make a custom product.” Blum knows that not everyone is comfortable with a hat. “Of course there is such a thing as ‘hat face,'” explains the former SCB star. “But I’d admit it if the hat didn’t fit someone.”
Blay on one side of the ocean, Roman Josi in Nashville, USA – and Blum dreams of more: “Pharrell Williams or Lenny Kravitz would be the best if I could wish for an international level.” It is no coincidence that he is so enthusiastic about musicians: the polyvalent puck the professional plays in the band himself. He was already planning a performance with his hockey colleague Roman Wick (36), “but Corona disrupted our plans”.
“I’m not a trendsetter”
His brand is still in its infancy – and yet he’s still betting on stylish hats and would generally like to see a little more “dare to wear a hat”. By the way, it contradicts the cliché that only men with thinning hair wear hats: “It kind of comes from the 1920s,” says the former hockey crack – and he is already looking forward to the next big appearance of his creations, namely im Ice hockey temple Hallenstadion. Blay will have their last concert together on December 10. And their trademark should not be missing there. Blum: “I’m always proud to see my hats in front of a big audience.”
For the final concert from Blay tickets are still available on December 10.