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What are Flip Flops?

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  • Written By: A Kaminsky
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 05 December 2016
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Formerly a humble form of footwear, flip flops have become a major fashion accessory. Most pairs consist of some kind of outsole with V-shaped straps sewn into the top, forming a thong at the peak. The wearer slips her feet between the straps, and the thong goes between the big toe and second toe. The shoe is kept on the foot by the wearer gripping the thong with the two toes as she walks. The name comes from the sound the shoes make as they slap against the wearer’s heel and then back on the ground.

Flip flops are the most common form of footwear in some developing countries, since their simple construction makes them cheap to manufacture, as well as to purchase. In some countries, they may be made of cheap rubber, even with recycled automobile tires, which brings their price down further. The style probably developed from the Japanese zori, the traditional shoe for women. As a result, they are known as “jandals” in some countries, a slang term from “Japanese sandals.”

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These shoes became popular in the West after World War II, when servicemen brought back zori as souvenirs and found that they made convenient slippers. They were first mass produced in the United States around 1960, and they caught on quickly. Because of their construction, they are popular beach wear and, in a rubberized form, in public showers, where they help prevent the transmission of foot fungi. Flip flops may be constructed of plastic urethane, leather, rubber and many other materials.

In the past ten years or so, thong sandals have become fashionable. No longer just for the beach or a hot summer day, they were suddenly on the Paris runways. Now they are seen everywhere in the U.S., from the beaches to formal dances. Designers have changed the materials, but have kept the basic form, so it is not unusual to see young ladies dressed for the prom wearing sparkly flip flops instead of dyed-to-match pumps. There are even bridal ones for casual or beach weddings, or for the bride to wear at the wedding reception instead of heels.

Flip flops have become acceptable footwear in most places. Some businesses may frown on their employees wearing these casual shoes, but they are popular for both men and women from all walks of life.

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anon288690
Post 3

It seems like a lot of flip flops have changed their comfort and durability over the years. Now they make the cheap kind that wear out so easily. But they are great to slip on and just go.

I know there is a brand that were originally manufactured by hand with natural reeds, based around Japanese Zori sandals. I think it is so neat to find information like this, where they came from and how they got their name.

anon60132
Post 2

excellent product, ashok.

anon23487
Post 1

Before the FF name caught on, I remember seeing ads referring to them as zories — that's what I heard them called in karate class; I usually call them beach shoes because I used to wear them on the beach (that rubber thing between the toes was uncomfy). I don't know who came up with "flip-flops," but I call them "slap shoes" because they slap the bottom of the feet and they slap the ground.

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