As far as models go, Inka Williams is smashing stereotypes. Sure, the Balinese-raised teenager is phenomenally beautiful (Justin Bieber once DM’d her after spotting her photograph), has more than a million followers on Instagram and is signed to top global modelling agency IMG. She sure knows how to play to a camera too.
What sets her apart from the Gigi and Bella Hadids of this world (setting aside the fact she’s been described in the media as the Balinese version of the former supermodel) is her laid-back attitude toward her career. And, surprisingly, her petite 5’4 stature.
“Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe when someone stops me on the street and I’m like yeah what’s up,” she says of her rise to commercial modelling fame.
“I guess all I’m trying to do is make other people see what’s more important things in life. Not just the materialistic things, but loving yourself. I want to be different and also do something good with my profile.”
When GRAZIA speaks to Williams over the phone for this interview, it’s 1.20am where she’s sitting. Last year, she moved away from her native Bali for the first time to expand her career in London, a move that’s both captivated and challenged her.
“I really miss the ocean. It’s hard for me to be somewhere not that hot but it’s a really good experience. I grew up in a small bubble on an island that was mostly nature, so it’s good for me to experience this part of the world. It’s hard though, and I do wonder how people do it.”
According to her manager, New York is a likely next step, and considering she’s just joined the ranks of top Australian models Miranda Kerr, Catherine McNeil and Kelly Gale as the global face of BONDS for its new Spring Summer 2018 campaign. When she first heard she’d won the gig, Williams was staying at the Bondi home of GRAZIA Australia cover-girl Sarah Ellen, who’s also a past BONDS girl.
“It’s so surreal,” she says of fronting the brand’s ‘90s-inspired New Era collection, which pays homage to vintage streetwear with colour blocking, bodysuits and a high-waisted silhouette. “In Bali growing up there weren’t a lot of shops, so we would stock up on everything in Australia. BONDS is a brand me and my whole family all brought back and wore.”
This collection, full of relaxed pieces that can be dressed up or down, is perfectly suited to the model’s aesthetic. “I really like the exercise gear and the leggings. The whole range is so cool you can wear it out too.”
It’s a concept that will come in handy for Williams should she be wearing New Era out and about in London. “When people recognise me [on the street], always look like I just woke up,” she says laughing, “I’m always wearing the most comfortable clothes.”
The New Era collection is available for purchase in-store and online from June 29.
15 QUICK QUESTIONS FOR INKA WILLIAMS
One hundred percent Bali. Before I moved here, which was like a year ago, it’s the only place I’ve ever lived.
I speak four different languages fluently and I can lick my elbow.
Barefoot. Sometimes I walk up to shoots and the soles of my feet are like shoes, they’re like so hard.
Really high fashion that’s more arty – really weird things, creative pieces.
It’s laid back. I don’t really have any dresses – it’s more casual, but still a bit chic and comfortable. In Bali I just wear sarongs.
I was pretty nervous – at the beginning sometimes I get a bit shy – but then as soon as I started and warmed up to the person, I get really into it.
The shoot I did for Carolina Herrera was fun because it was in Madrid and we were shooting in amazing old houses that were really fancy and chic. It was like going to a party basically.
Probably shooting my first music video or just any video in general or any shoot where I have to dance. I’m such an awkward dancer.
Probably a Victoria Secret campaign or Chanel campaign. I don’t know about the shows though because of the whole height thing, but it would be great.
Probably either casual or a nice classy suit – as long as he’s a nice boy.
It’s all about the lighting.
Sleep on the plane. Moisturise your face because its dry, and drink a lot of water
Music. I like Pink Floyd.
I think I’d either own a really cool restaurant and spa in Bali or have my own fashion brand or be someone’s closet organiser and house organiser. I’m a real Virgo. [Editor’s note: being practical and a perfectionist are both widely claimed traits of this star-sign.]
Accept that everyone has flaws and you have flaws and that it’s okay, you have to learn to love them. Also, try your best and be kind.