This practice-based research focuses on traditional textile artisan communities in Kashmir, India, who create handcrafted products with expertise learnt through intergenerational observation and making. The research shows that the rich cultural heritage inherent in these communities has the potential for growth towards a sustainable future through co-design projects. Assumptions in contemporary co-design processes are, however, based on industrialised and technological contexts which need to be reconsidered when working with artisanal communities in India. As members of India’s informal economy, these artisans tend to have low socio-economic status and limited educational opportunities. Consequently, the future of their craft heritage is now becoming economically and practically unsustainable, owing particularly to the global impact of fast fashion and the younger generations leaving the industry. Yet, at the same time, more and more consumers or users are becoming interested in traditional design processes and their provenance, and the makers and the techniques they use to produce these products, prior to purchase. For this research, three co-design projects were conducted with the Kashmir shawl artisan community and Australian users and collectors of their products. Two embroidered pashmina shawls were created by artisans working directly with two customers in Australia, while the third co-design project reintroduced using natural dyes to the shawl community. This practice-based research on co-designing within the context of artisan craft heritage investigates and documents the role of ‘facilitators’ sourced from within the artisan community; a re-evaluation of ‘value’ as perceived by intercultural participants; and using digital technologies to connect user and maker through storytelling and lived experience. The relevance of relationship-building to sustainability, recognised within the frameworks of co-design theory and slow fashion, are key drivers of this research. Through the researcher’s Kashmiri connections, these co-design projects were built on rare and unique access to artisans in their work environment who shared their perceptions of their work, relationships and values, without commercial or social status concerns. This research proposes a new understanding of co-design methodologies in the Indian context and highlights the potential constraints of language differences and geographical distances between the intercultural participants. The research also contributes to a critical rethinking of assumptions within contemporary co-design practices, especially when working with participants whose culture and values differ. The emergent co-design strategies proposed in this research have significant application to projects in other traditional artisanal communities in India, and towards a more sustainable future for handmade crafts.