STEELE DEAL: Lawrence Steele has signed a six-year licensing agreement for all his products and distribution with Alberto Aspesi, a leading Italian apparel sportswear manufacturer. Before this deal for production and worldwide distribution, Aspesi only produced Steele’s sportswear; Casor handled the ready-to-wear and Miss Deanna, a knitwear maker recently acquired by Giorgio Armani, fashioned the sweaters. Those agreements expired. Aspesi, founded 35 years ago, also produces apparel for Comme des Garçons. “Having developed my brand through three licensees…often meant designing bigger collections to satisfy everyone’s production needs. Now, it will be more streamlined and focused,” said the 39-year-old American designer, whose collection bowed in 1994. Steele will trade his usual runway show for a more “intimate” showroom presentation starting on Sept. 27 in Milan. According to recent talk on the acquisitions front, Aspesi, based in Legnano, near Milan, has caught the attention of such Italian groups as the Bulgari-led Opera, Diego Della Valle’s Tod’s Group and Sinv, the manufacturing company that recently acquired Byblos. Executives at Sinv and Tod’s couldn’t be reached, while the word at Opera was “no comment.”
CHANGES AT EW: James W. Seymore, who for months had been rumored to be leaving his post as managing editor of Entertainment Weekly, was succeeded Tuesday by Rick Tetzeli, deputy managing editor of Fortune. Seymore will become an editor-at-large at Time Inc. During his 12-year tenure, EW won four National Magazine Awards, including two for general excellence. In addition, Andy Sareyan, president of The Parenting Group, has been named president of Entertainment Weekly. He succeeds John Squires, who became an executive vice president of Time Inc. last July. Meantime, Peter Bonventre, executive editor of EW, who was reportedly in the running for the managing editor’s post, has been named editorial director of the magazine, where he will continue to provide senior editorial leadership as well as work with the business side to identify and develop new ventures and opportunities. He reports to Sareyan and Tetzeli.
KMART ISP EXIT: In a notice filed Tuesday with the court overseeing Kmart Corp.’s bankruptcy, the distressed retailer and its BlueLight.com LLC unit have agreed to sell the assets of their dial-up Internet and e-mail services division to NetBrands Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of United Online Inc. Terms of the sale were not disclosed and the final price will be subject to higher bids at an auction to be held later. Formerly known as BlueLight.com and now known as Kmart.com, the assets are part of the companies’ BlueLight Unlimited Internet Service, a $8.95 a month Internet service provider. The companies said the sale will not affect the operation of the site.