Building on What’s Necessary

NEW YORK — Since starting out 21 years ago with a little money and a passion for creativity, Ady Gluck-Frankel has been churning out those Necessary Objects.<br><br>Gluck-Frankel is finally ready to expand into licensing and advertising. The...

NEW YORK — Since starting out 21 years ago with a little money and a passion for creativity, Ady Gluck-Frankel has been churning out those Necessary Objects.

This story first appeared in the June 20, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Gluck-Frankel is finally ready to expand into licensing and advertising. The first full ad campaign launched this spring in magazines such as YM and Jane and will expand for back-to-school. The campaign will also be placed in In Style and Lucky magazines, as well as in some trade publications, she said.

Although she has yet to sign any licenses, she hopes to launch items “that are necessary in a girl’s life,” including cosmetics, accessories, home products and furniture.

Gluck-Frankel said she plans to launch a separate denim line for 2003. She currently incorporates denim in the collection, but said she has seen a need for a specialized collection.

“It wouldn’t be licensed; I would do it in-house,” she said.

A native of Hungary who immigrated to the U.S. with her family when she was a child, Gluck-Frankel grew up in Brooklyn, where she still resides. She decided to become a designer after studying fine arts in college and receiving a graduate degree in philosophy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. After that, she went to the Parsons School of Design to study fashion design, but left before graduating.

“When I was younger, I shied away from anything traditionally female,” she said. “I decided to go into fashion because I loved the concept of creating beauty. I liked creating things that made people look and feel good.”

With that concept and a small amount of money, Gluck-Frankel created Necessary Objects in 1981. She moved into a loft space at 524 Broadway in SoHo and set up shop. Later, she moved into a 100,000-square-foot space across the street at 503 Broadway, where she remains today and houses her sample room.

“SoHo was not cool back then, I moved there because I was poor and just starting out,” she said. “SoHo was cheap then.”

Gluck-Frankel chose the name Necessary Objects after much thought.

“When you start out and don’t have much money to spend, you spend it on things that you love,” she said. “You purchase the ‘must-haves’ of the season. No one needs another article of clothing, so you make a purchase of passion when buying clothes. It’s all in the way it makes us feel. It’s a necessity for the soul, so it’s a necessary object.”

Gluck-Frankel works long hours, arriving as early as 5:30 a.m. Every night except Friday, when she celebrates the Sabbath, she stays as late as 11 p.m. She spends her time in the office working with the cutters and sewers (whom she knows all by name), always contributing her two cents.

“I believe a real designer is right there through the whole process,” she said before picking up a black velvet and lace off-the-shoulder top being made for the holiday collection. “I think this lace needs to be white instead of black,” she tells one employee.

Gluck-Frankel has also been working on a side project for the past 10 years. She helps Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president for fashion merchandising at Bloomingdale’s, to design themed window displays at the store. Her last project with him was working on fashions for the “Mamma Mia” windows and is now working on “Hairspray,” which will be on display this summer.

“Kal is my mentor,” she said. “He is an inspiration to me, and I really love him.”

After Sept. 11, the economic slowdown and the temporary shutdown of SoHo, Gluck-Frankel’s employees feared that they would lose their jobs, but she wouldn’t hear of it.

“We were all effected by Sept. 11, especially those downtown,” she stressed. “Even when no one was placing orders, I kept cutting in order to support my staff. I believe in New York, and I believe that it’s my moral responsibility to keep it running.”