How to say it: zawr-ee

Traditional Features: 


  • flat to wedge sole
  • traditionally made of wood, straw or rubber
  • held onto foot with a thing passing between the first and second toe
  • both shoes are symmetrical so there is no difference between the left and right shoe

21st Century Zōri

Zōri don’t really exist in modern fashion outside of Japan, but the 21st century footwear market is awash with various versions of its close cousin the flip-flop – check out our post on flip-flops for the history and current options of the style.


…of the style: Zōri sandals are a traditional Japanese shoe that is worn with the kimono. It is made from a variety of materials depending on the formality of the occasion to which it is meant to be worn – straw zōri are more casual, whereas the vinyl versions are more dressy and the most formal ones are made from fabric and designed to be worn with formal kimonos.

The soles of zōri sandals range from completely flat to a slight wedge or platform and women’s zori do generally have at least a little bit of height to them.

It is thought the zōri style made its way into Western society sometime after WWII when returning soldiers took the style home with them. After that the style quickly evolved into the flip-flop which took the western footwear market by storm and has remained a firm summer favourite ever since. Check out the history of the flip-flop on IFA here.

Despite its initial popularity in the West, the zōri was quickly replaced by the flip-flop and has not really had any success in modern fashion since then. It is still worn in Japan and while the shoe has moved with the times in terms of materials and manufacturing, the look of the style remains fairly unchanged and is still worn regularly in Japan.

…of the name: the name zōri is a Japanese word meaning ‘grass or straw sole’

For more info on Zōri try Wikipedia

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