When Jessica Clary visited Los Angeles as a teenager with her mother in 1995, the attraction they were most excited to see wasn’t the Hollywood sign or Rodeo Drive. It was the courthouse where OJ Simpson was tried for murder.
Ms Clary, who grew up in Plano, Texas, said that like millions of Americans, she and her mother were paralyzed by the case then described as “the trial of the century.” On the day the women went to see the courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, they weren’t the only people on the streets outside. Several vendors had come to sell merchandise.
“We bought a ‘Dream Team’ T-shirt for my dad,” Clary said, using a phrase adopted as a nickname for Simpson’s lawyers. “I got a ‘Free the Juice’ button,” she added, using a nickname for Mr. Simpson, who was found not guilty.
Ms. Clary said they did not buy the products as a way to communicate opinions about the trial. The merchandise was meant to commemorate an event that she described as “a big part of pop culture.”
During the Britney Spears conservatorship case, that a judge rescinded in 2021the hashtag #FreeBritney was plastered on coffee mugs and T-shirts, one of which was worn by Mrs. Spears. Other people whose legal affairs have spawned merchandise include ana sorokinthe false heiress better known as ana delvey; elizabeth holmesTheranos founder awaiting prison; and Jen Shah, a star of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” who went to prison after pleading guilty to participating in a fraudulent telemarketing scheme. (Before pleading guilty, the prosecutors saidMs. Shah sold T-shirts inspired by her event).
In March, Ms. Clary, now 44 years old and living in Los Angeles, started an etsy shop that sells lawsuit related merchandise. Among his items are mugs and t-shirts inspired by the case of Alex Murdaugh, the South Carolina attorney convicted of murdering his wife and sonThey say “Murdaugh Family Law.”
There are also garments inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow’s recent ski accident fitting in Park City, Utah, in which the actress was not found guilty from a collision on the slopes. Some of the pieces read “Gwynnocent,” while others feature Ms. Paltrow’s now-famous quote from the trial: “Well, I lost half a day of skiing.”
Ms. Clary, a fundraiser for the Coast Guard Foundation, designs the pieces using Canva software. Her products typically cost between $25 and $35. The Etsy shop, she said, is a modern version of “people with folding tables in front of the courthouse.”
Chantal Strasburger, 32, who lives in Austin, Texas, also sold merchandise inspired by Ms. Paltrow’s trial. Her pieces include zip-up hoodies ($65) embroidered with the actress’ ski quote and baseball caps ($30) reading “I wish you the best,” which Ms Paltrow was heard telling her accuser after the verdict was delivered.
Ms. Strasburger, who presented the products at the tiktok video which has received nearly two million views, said she has sold more than 400 since she began offering them through her embroidery business, read receipts. She thinks customers appreciate the merchandise because it nods to a specific moment in time. “They want to capture that moment,” Strasburger said, “and immortalize it forever.”
Tara Ann Stridh, a 43-year-old writer from Queens, said that when she bought a hat inspired by The defamation case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heardwas mainly a gesture of support for Ms. Heard, who lost the trial. The baseball cap, which Ms. Stridh bought on Etsy for $25, read: “Believe Amber.”
“I thought, well, I can’t contact her and I’ll just buy this for myself because I want to support her,” Ms. Stridh said.
Lorynn Divita, an associate professor of apparel merchandising at Baylor University, described the test merchandise as an evolution of the band’s T-shirts and other trinkets sold at concerts. These types of products, Ms. Divita said, can be a way for their owners to show their cultural awareness and interests.
For some, even the prospect of a trial is enough to turn the screen printer on.
After the The Department of Justice appointed Jack Smith as special counsel Overseeing his investigations into former President Donald J. Trump, Scott Horner, 53, worked with two graphic designers to create merchandise that included $25 T-shirts featuring Mr. Smith’s face along with phrases like “Mr. Smith is going to Washington” and “Someone is going to get screwed!”.
Mr. Horner, a travel agent in Orlando, Fla., started sell the products online the last December. He said that since then he has sold about 1,500 and that he wouldn’t be surprised to see other people start selling similar products. Mr. Smith’s job increases.
“I think there will definitely be more interest if there are trials,” Horner said.