Visiting Pasar Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta is an overwhelming experience. The textile market spans several multi-storey buildings linked by labyrinthian passages and rickety bridges. Stalls selling shoes, bags, shirts, rugs, toys, and accessories spill out into the streets. It’s the heart of Indonesia’s textile industry, and also Southeast Asia’s largest textile and garment market.
Textiles and apparel are an important export product for Indonesia, contributing US$13.8 billion to export earnings in 2019. That’s 5% of overall exports. With 270 million inhabitants, Indonesia is also a big domestic market for textiles. Wholesalers from across the archipelago buy products in Tanah Abang and resell them at market stalls, shops, or online.