In her relatively short but nonetheless impressive career thus far, Moriah Rose Pereira—better known by her artist mononym, Poppy—has spent the last few years releasing music that not only appeals to her ever-expanding fanbase but which also does the distinctly more difficult work of establishing her name in the canon of contemporary alternative music.
This, naturally, has been divisive: You can’t please everyone, and, a lot of the time—especially in the alternative music sphere—you can’t please anyone at all.
Shaking the preconceptions of exactly what heavy music meant in the 2010s, and what it means now in the early 2020s, was never going to be an easy ride. Particularly, it’s fair to say—though unfair in pretty much every other way—for a young woman.
Under more scrutiny than many of her contemporaries, principally for challenging the codes of what defines “alt” music and culture—even, or perhaps especially, as she cribs from and reinvents those codes—Poppy’s stylistic choices, too, are often held up as evidence that she’s less than a true believer.
After all, someone who collaborates with high fashion designers such as Viktor&Rolf, or who wears Delvaux bags and appears on the pages of Vogue, could never live up to the outsider credentials that making alternative music for some reason requires. Right? Well, no.
Outsiderism is what you make it, essentially, and regardless of where she started back in 2011, Poppy is an outsider. And she’s an outsider specifically because she’s been made into one by the alt purists who push against her credibility: If you don’t let someone into the club—particularly if the reason you’re keeping them out is because they don’t look like some cardboard cut-out idea you have in your mind—then, by definition, they are very much outside.
It’s with this in mind that we find Poppy working, once again, in a space that bridges those tenuous gaps between the mainstream and alternative worlds: footwear. It’s perhaps an unlikely shared passion, but—whether you’re into New Rocks and Dr. Martens, Nikes and Jordans, or you’re passionate about the surprisingly enduring cult status of the Balenciaga Triple S sneaker—what you wear on your feet has long been a marker of how you see yourself in a broader cultural sense.
And, in yesterday announcing a collaboration with KOI Footwear, it’s clear that Poppy knows this. Perhaps better than most.
To that same end, Poppy’s decision to work with a lesser-known brand will likely confound and delight her critics and her fans alike: KOI is a less than household name, based in the U.K. Poppy is slowly but surely (although not too slowly) earning that status for herself and is firmly, definitely rooted in California.
But here’s the thing: It’s not that Poppy took the first deal that came her way, regardless of the brand’s standing. Quite the opposite, in fact. Realistically, Poppy could have worked with any brand she wanted to at this point; she’s a rising star, and the footwear market, once dominated by sports stars and hip-hop artists, is opening up to partners in considerably smaller niches.
Instead, what’s clear is that KOI is a brand that holds genuinely alternative ethics and values: It’s vegan, and it’s accessibly priced. Essentially, it’s for everyone, and no one is hurt in the process.
That, whatever you might think of the baby blues and kawaii neons of the collection, is punk as fuck.