In the summer of 2007, Daniel Beckerman received an email from William Morris, the prolific talent agency that repped Mel Gibson, Denzel Washington, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Kanye West, William Morris said, was interested in collaborating with Retrosuperfuture, the Italian sunglass brand Daniel co-founded with his brother Simon. But Daniel had no idea who either William Morris or West were. The music editor at Italian magazine PIG, where Daniel is also CEO, had to fill him in. “[He told me] he was a rapper, he was becoming big, and that he was the one who remixed the Daft Punk song,” Daniel says. The just-released “Stronger,” with a video that introduced the soon-to-be ubiquitous shutter shades by Alain Mikli, would catapult West into pop stardom.

Daniel was flattered by the request, but surprised that West wanted to work with him. After all, he had just launched Retrosuperfuture a few months before. “I didn’t expect this fast success,” he says. “I’m an ambitious guy and I work to make the best sunglasses, but honestly, I didn’t expect that much in a short time.” But a chance to work with West was too big an opportunity to pass up, he told himself. Plus, he’d seen how West had propelled the shutter shades into the mainstream. Imagine what a co-sign from the rapper could do for his young brand. “I said, ‘Wow. This can be important for me and my brand,’” says Daniel.

Roughly a month later, and after several email exchanges with West’s agent and a meeting at the William Morris office in New York, West invited Daniel to his Manhattan apartment. “Everything happened so fast,” says Daniel. For about an hour, they thrashed out ideas, discussing various samples of Retrosuperfuture sunglasses—including the Classic, Retrosuperfuture’s first design, and the Gino, a then-unreleased frame that features a golden triangle on the bridge of the shades. “The conversation was out of this world,” says Daniel.