Well just trying to get some opinions here, which version of Mals Browncoat would you prefer? Johnathan Logan's or Abbyshotts?
Malcolm Reynolds' Browncoat made by the original maker of this collectors coat. The leather, the hardware, the patterns are all the same as the original coat from the TV show. This is a piece that will complete your Firefly collection.
Honestly the browncoat is one of the easiest things in the world to sew together. The only real challenge is finding skins large enough to cut out the pieces. I've considered just getting one large cowhide skin and making a coat out of that, but spending $150 for something from the wrong materials instead of $300 for the right materials seems like a bit of a waste.
Let us know how the deer hide you found turns out. That seems to be a pretty good deal, to me at least. You're probably right about the color matching being the biggest issue.
I actually have a set of buckles from Badger that he made a couple of years ago, so I'm anxious to see what I can do to make the coat itself.
There's a reddish brown fauz suede at some Jo-Ann's in the clearance section that would look alright, but the problem with using faux suede is that you have to change the pattern. A lot of the coat edges are raw leather, with fabric you'd have to add seam allowances, and then there's the issue of interfacing where the original is just glued. More trouble than it's worth. Plus, the inside of the coat is smooth leather, so that won't look right.
Boots aren't just expensive because of the time and difficulty of making them, but because the materials are expensive. You should really track down a good pair of shoes and see if somebody local would make the boots onto the soles provided. It really isn't hard to find close enoughs, a couple weeks searching ebay should produce decent results.