|Look up zōri in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
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|Material||cloth, lacquered wood, rubber, leather/synthetic materials, rice straw|
|Place of origin||Japan|
Zōri vary in formality and can be worn to a variety of occasions and events; despite their similar appearance, however, they are not considered to be the same as flip-flops within traditional culture.
Zōri vary in appearance and material, owing to season, gender, and occasion. In all instances, how generally "flashy" a type of zōri appears to be dictates finer grades of suitability for wear with kimono and occasion. Tabi socks are worn with all kinds of zōri except flat, rice straw zōri.
Very informal zōri are entirely flat and most closely resemble flip-flops. They are woven from a layer of rice straw or bamboo sheath, backed with a thicker sole of rubber or other synthetic material. Informal rice straw zōri will be edged in fabric, and like all traditional footwear, will have cloth straps known as hanao. For these zōri, the hanao are likely made of a plain velvet or velour fabric.
These zōri are only worn to informal occasions, such as working around the house, and can be worn regardless of gender; however, like most traditional footwear, women's zōri are less square in shape. Despite the informality, rice straw zōri may be decorated in fun and informal fabrics through the hanao and the fabric around the edge, similar to the informality and bright appearance of yukata summer kimono.
For women, slightly more formal zōri resemble geta more closely; however, instead of pronged soles, wooden zōri of this type will have a sloping heel more similar to an informal Western sandal. These zōri may also be worn with decorative hanao, and are suitable to wear with yukata and some komon informal kimono.
Vinyl zori are the next step in formality. These can generally be worn with most formalities of kimono up to tsukesage semi-formal kimono, and would not be worn to formal events. Vinyl zōri are generally less bright in colour, but are more colourful than zōri worn to weddings and extremely formal events. The hanao are likely to be thin vinyl or brocade straps, or wider, padded vinyl or crepe straps.
Brocade-covered zōri are the most formal, and are considered the only type of footwear, save for okobo worn to events such as coming of age day, suitable to wear with formal kimono for women. Brocade zōri may feature some colour, however, this colour is likely to be some variety of red, considered auspicious for formal events.
As with kimono in general, the older the wearer is, the less suitable these brighter colours become, though personal choice and taste in fashion is also a consideration. For funerals, women's zōri are made of black brocade, and are undecorated save for the weave of the fabric.
Men's zōri, such as men's kimono, have far fewer degrees of formality, and are always flat-heeled. Generally, the hierarchy of rice straw, vinyl and other synthetic materials, and then fabric that women's zōri do, with the addition of imitation bamboo sheath setta alongside vinyl zōri. Men's hanao may be made from leather or imitation leather.
Men's zōri tend to appear in much duller colour palettes than women's, though modern zōri for men have more variation in appearance than in previous years. For formal occasions, white hanao are worn, with black hanao worn both informally and to funerals.