Worthy of the Name: The Hadfield

Part of our Aircord collection, the Hadfield is named after and inspired by metallurgist Robert Hadfield. Designed as an homage to a true Sheffield icon who’s legacy has had a lasting impact on not only the city but also on a national scale. The Hadfield is a smart sneaker imbued with innovation and ingenuity.

The son of a steel manufacturer, Hadfield was introduced to the world of steelmaking at a young age. He was taught chemistry by the famous chemist William Baker and refused opportunities to go to either Oxford or Cambridge, choosing to stay local and take an apprenticeship with steelmakers, Jonas and Colver. After continuing to to develop as a chemist and steelmaker he eventually took over his father’s business, Hadfield’s Steel Foundry Co. Ltd.

After visiting steelworks in Paris, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Philadelphia and taking note of their production methods Hadfield began to develop his own processes to produce stronger and more versatile materials. This led to his invention of manganese and silicon steel, as well as developments in the production process which allowed the factory to increase output. These developments, combined with a growing need for his newly invented alloys, allowed Hadfield’s to grow to become Sheffield’s largest employer and one of the largest special alloy steel manufacturers in the UK.

Hadfield also understood people, the benefit of employee moral and how shorter working hours could lead to increased output, co-writing a book on the concept and being one of the first employers in the UK to introduce the eight hour day which is now the standard in this country.

In later life, he stepped away from the running of the factory choosing to focus on his research work, travelling the world lecturing at various establishments and publishing over 200 papers. He also used this time to highlight his own contributions and Sheffield’s relevance in modern age of alloy steels. This period cemented Hadfield as a leading innovator in the field of metallurgy.

Over his career he was continually recognised for his role in developing industry in Sheffield and the influence he had on the UK steel industry. Hadfield was made Master Cutler, knighted, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, made a baronet and given the Freedom of the City in both London and Sheffield.

Hadfield’s dedication to his work, his worldliness and his drive to continually innovate resonates with us here at the Goral Factory and motivated us to push the boundaries of convention. Getting into the mindset of a man with such achievements and legacy provided our designers and craftsmen ample inspiration for a unique take on a classic styling. A low-top sneaker with aircord piping outlining the vamp and toe box, a gimped contrast stripe on either side and a neat padded collar. The Hadfield hopes to emulate the essence of a true visionary.